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Higher density of blood vessels could point to Alzheimer’s

Published 1 September 2011

A higher density of blood vessels in the brain could be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease according to research published in the Public Library of Science ONE online.

Scientists at the University of British Columbia found that mice modelled to show symptoms of Alzheimer's had nearly double the density of capillaries compared to normal mice. They also found a similarly higher density in brain samples of people who had died of the disease compared to those who hadn't had the disease.

Alzheimer's Society comment:

'Identifying early changes that can be easily measured in people with Alzheimer's is one of the big challenges for scientists trying to develop treatments and ultimately a cure. This new research builds on existing knowledge and points towards an exciting new avenue of investigation. This could one day pave the way towards a better future for hundreds of thousands of people.

More research is now needed to confirm this link and also to answer the proverbial chicken and egg question of whether these changes are a cause or a symptom of the disease. One in three people over 65 will die with dementia yet dementia research is still drastically underfunded. We must invest now.'

Dr Susanne Sorensen
Head of Research
Alzheimer's Society

Research Reference: 'Amyloid triggers extensive cerebral angiogenesis causing blood brain barrier permeability and hypervascularity in Alzheimer's Disease' by Biron et al in PLoS One