26 January 2008

Lead linked to Alzheimer's disease?

Early lead poisoning may boost Alzheimer’s brain chemicals years later
WebMD: 2 January 2008
Lead poisoning in infancy may make Alzheimer's disease more likely decades later, a new study shows… > full story

Alzheimer’s Australia Research Officer, Suzanne Dixon comments: A recent study proposes that exposure to lead in infancy may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease late in life. The research, performed in monkeys, showed that low-level lead poisoning, while causing no outwardly visible health problems or significantly elevated brain tissue lead levels, can irreversibly alter Alzheimer's gene transcription pathways. This ultimately causes oxidative DNA damage and increases the levels of toxic Alzheimer-related proteins in the brain. Three key genes associated with Alzheimer's disease, including the amyloid precursor protein, were shown to be more active later on in the lead-fed monkeys. The researchers believe that lead exposure, while it may not cause the disease, can certainly be considered a risk factor.

However, none of the monkeys, including those fed the lead-laced milk, demonstrated any cognitive decline. The researchers are unsure why the monkeys appeared to be protected from this despite the brain pathology they exhibited, and more research is required to verify the effect of this environmental toxin.

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Alzheimer's Australia NSW

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