In Alzheimer’s disease the neurons slowly degenerate and die leading to brain atrophy and subsequently to memory loss, loss of personality, loss of language, perception and a host of other skills and abilities.

Over the past decade the process of inflammation has been a focus of increasing interest in the Alzheimer’s disease (AD) field, not only for its potential role in neuronal degeneration but also as a promising therapeutic target. Microglia (red colour) are the first-line of defence in the brain against infections, trauma and other inflammatory processes. In Alzheimer’s disease, these cells stop being protective and they attack the neurons leading to further neuronal death.

Astrocytes (magenta colour) are providing trophic support to the neurons and recent advances in science have proved that apart from this role they can be protective against the disease by providing soluble factors that can lead to neuronal survival and neurogenesis (birth of new neurons). The goal of current therapeutic treatments is to manipulate these two types of cells so as to decrease inflammation and prevent further damage to the brain.

Information and image provided by Dr Loukia Katsouri, TDI, Nuffield Dept. of Medicine, University of Oxford
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