HELSI Bites: The inflammatory link between heart disease and brain health
The inflammatory link between heart disease and brain health; how a drug for arthritis may help prevent dementia.
Neurovascular coupling (NVC) is an important brain mechanism linking our neural activity to changes in blood flow to the brain, and is essential in maintaining healthy neurons. Impairments to the NVC mechanism are implicated in serious neurodegenerative conditions that cause disability, suffering and death such as vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Our group has found that the NVC mechanism is also impaired in mice with heart disease, and that crucially, there are signs of NVC breakdown when the mice are midlife and not yet displaying any neurodegenerative symptoms. In this talk, I’ll explore this intriguing link between heart disease and brain health, and hypothesise that if we can target the NVC breakdown (characterised by the presence of an inflammatory chemical called interleukin-1), we may be able to reverse or slow down some of the neurological damage seen in these mice before the onset of serious disease later in life.
Recent funding from the British Heart Foundation is allowing us to explore these links further using an already available arthritis drug (which targets interleukin-1) to see if it has a protective effect on the brain of these midlife heart disease mice. Our hope is that restoring NVC at midlife could provide a preventative approach that would help reduce suffering for millions worldwide.
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