The study, from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, shows in various clinical trials the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in mice was significantly reduced using aspirin.
Alzheimer’s disease is a common neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive cognitive impairment. There is no effective treatment for preventing or halting the disease, which is caused by “plaques” formed by toxic amyloid deposited on cells in the brain.
Researchers led by Rush University professor Kalipada Pahan looked at how aspirin may reduce the formation of those toxic plaques by increasing lysosomal biogenesis in brain cells. Aspirin in various doses stimulated formation of healthy brain cell storage materials in mice with Alzheimer’s disease. The team found aspirin, which is one of the most widely used medications in the world, can help stimulate brain cells and increase lysosomal biogenesis in brain cells.
Acetylsalicylic acid, commonly known as aspirin, is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), and has been shown to have beneficial effects for atherosclerosis, cardiovascular diseases and several cancers. Earlier studies have explored the neuroprotective effect of aspirin under different disease conditions and the drug has been proven to enhance memory.
But while aspirin has therapeutic potential, “the underlying molecular mechanism needs further investigation,” the researchers said.
A 2003 study by S.E. Nilsson showed that users of aspirin in high doses had significantly lower prevalence of Alzheimer’s dementia and had better cognitive function than nonusers.
But other researchers found the use of aspirin at low doses in patients over 65 may be “too little, too late,” as it is believed that pathologic changes typical of dementia begin 20 years before the clinical symptoms present. They also found gastrointestinal side effects were 10 times higher in people taking aspirin.
Monday’s study, published in the Journal of Neurosciences, revealed that aspirin dosages in the mice worked best before the mice had developed Alzheimer’s disease.