Treatment with low-dose aspirin was found to reduce the amount of brain amyloid aggregates that researchers believe are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a mouse study.
These findings may open new therapeutic doors to prevent memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients.
Acetylsalicylic acid, commonly known as aspirin, is one of the most frequently used drugs to manage inflammation, pain, and fever, and it is widely used to treat cardiovascular diseases.
Previous studies have evaluated its protective effect in different disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. High-dose aspirin users were found to exhibit better maintenance of cognitive functions and had reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.
While these studies suggest that aspirin may prevent neurotoxicity, its mode of action is still not fully understood.
Rush University Medical Center researchers found that by treating the brain cells of Alzheimer’s mice with aspirin they were able to promote the production of new lysosomes, small vesicles essential for cellular waste destruction. More importantly, the cells were able to reduce the amount of amyloid plaques, which are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.
Next, the team treated mice genetically engineered to have Alzheimer’s disease with a low-dose regimen of aspirin taken orally for a month. The treatment was found to promote the production of lysosomes and to reduce amyloid plaques in the hippocampus of mice – the brain area that is highly affected in Alzheimer’s disease.
These findings suggest that low-dose aspirin can boost the effects of amyloid plaques by promoting their uptake and destruction by newly produced lysosomes.
“The results of our study identifies a possible new role for one of the most widely used, common, over-the-counter medications in the world,” Kalipada Pahan, PhD, professor and the Floyd A. Davis, MD, Endowed Chair of Neurology at Rush Medical College, and senior author of the study, said in a news release.
“Understanding how plaques are cleared is important to developing effective drugs that stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” he added.
Additional studies are needed to evaluate the potential implications of aspirin use to treat Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related diseases.