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April 17, 2011

Inflammation in brain linked with memory decline!

Inflammation is known as a part of the body’s natural immune response to tissue damage. Well, chronic inflammation, on the other hand is presumed to pave way for a number of ailments including Parkinson’s & Alzheimer’s. In a major breakthrough, investigators from the University of California, San Francisco found that high levels of a protein associated with chronic, low-grade inflammation in the brain is involved in memory decline.

During the study, a total of 76 women & men with a mean age of 71.8 years with detectible levels of CRP in their blood & 65 people in an average age group of 70.8 with undetectable levels were assessed. All the study subjects received a 16-word list learning task to measure verbal recall. Volunteers also underwent MRI to measure volumes of regions of the medial temporal lobes, particularly the hippocampus, entorhinal cortex & parahippocampal cortex. Those with measurable levels of C reactive protein apparently recalled fewer words & had smaller medial temporal lobes. Currently the health world is unable to gauge whether inflammation indicated by the C reactive protein is the cause of the memory loss.  

Joel H. Kramer, PsyD, UCSF clinical professor of neuropsychology & the director of the neuropsychology program at the UCSF Memory & Aging Center & colleagues will be initiating further investigations to analyze the participants until the end of their lives & to use additional inflammatory markers. The study was reported in a poster session at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting on April 13, 2011.

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