Hope for Alzheimer’s Disease from Rheumatoid Arthritis? | Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior

Hope for Alzheimer’s Disease from Rheumatoid Arthritis?

“The treatment completely reversed cognitive impairment in 20 days”

White MousePeople with Rheumatoid Arthritis are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. A recent study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Research showed that a protein associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis may be responsible. There is hope that the protein may be useful in treating Alzheimer’s disease. An artificial version of the protein, nicknamed GM-CSF, is already being used in a drug called Leukine to increase immune cells in some cancer patients. That is encouraging to researchers since Leukine is already considered safe in humans.

Will a byproduct of Rheumatoid Arthritis reverse Alzheimer’s symptoms?

In a 20 day study at the University of South Florida, researchers used mice with an Alzheimer’s-like condition and normal healthy mice. Some mice were treated with GM-CSF and others received a placebo. The sick mice treated with the protein increased memory performance to a practically normal level. Even the healthy mice showed improvement. Placebo treated mice did not improve.

It seems people with RA have an abundance of natural scavengers (microglia) to clean up toxic substances. That is why people with RA have such clean minds, right? Actually, the trash collectors are really important. The brains of the Alzheimer’s mice benefitted because of a drastic decrease (over 50%) in the substance which forms harmful plaques, beta amyloid. There were even increased nerve cell connections in the treated mice.

Science Daily: “The researchers suggest that GM-CSF boosted during the immune system overdrive of rheumatoid arthritis helps harness the beneficial properties of inflammation in the brain. The protein may do this by recruiting more microglia from the peripheral blood into the brain to remove Alzheimer’s plaques, Dr. Potter said. An apparent increase in neural cell connections in the brains of the GM-CSF-treated mice may also help explain GM-CSF’s association with improving memory decline in Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers said.”

Memory loss and brain fog of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Some Rheumatoid Arthritis patients may question the findings of this study because of their personal experience with memory problems associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I’ve personally worried about Alzheimer’s because I’ve struggled with short term memory the last few years. There must be another reason that many RA patients experience memory problems. Experiencing memory problems doesn’t always mean Alzheimer’s; just as experiencing a joint problem doesn’t necessarily mean RA. This is one less worry for us.

Pictures of the Alzheimer’s / Rheumatoid Arthritis study

Alzheimer's Rheumatoid Arthritis experimentsYou can see lots of cool slides of mouse brains and colorful charts illustrating the Alzheimer’s / Rheumatoid Arthritis study in a supplemental data PDF prepared by the authors. Maybe you’re wondering how the researchers measured the memory power of mice. This screenshot from their PDF will give you an idea. I’m wondering whether mice who were healed remember having Alzheimer’s before they were treated. Do they know how lucky they are? Apparently it’s much easier to cure mice of anything.

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Kelly O'Neill

Kelly O'Neill (formerly Kelly Young) has worked about 12 years as an advocate helping patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the author of the best-selling book Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Through her writing and speaking, she builds a more accurate awareness of rheumatoid disease (RD) aka rheumatoid arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creates ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and brings recognition and visibility to the RA patient journey. In addition to RA Warrior, she writes periodically for newsletters, magazines, and websites. There are over 60,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook page. You can also connect with Kelly on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is a mother of five, longtime home-schooler, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. She has lived over fourteen years with unrelenting RD. See also https:/rawarrior.com/kelly-young-press/

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9 thoughts on “Hope for Alzheimer’s Disease from Rheumatoid Arthritis?

  • August 26, 2010 at 11:28 am

    hi kelly! this is good news and something to be thankful for…i have a friend, who happened to be a nurse, warned me that there are NSAID’s prescribed to RA patients that may lead to Alzheimer’s as that is the side effect of those meds.

    i just pray that God would be gracious to us…God bless you and all the RA warriors out there! our God is good… =)

    • August 26, 2010 at 11:51 am

      Charizza, I have not read that. There are always lots more studies to read. But you are right God is good and we should not worry too much about things that have not happened either. Maybe you can show this study to your friend to help her feel better?

      • August 27, 2010 at 6:46 am

        i will, kelly…thanks again and God bless you! :-))

        • August 27, 2010 at 12:55 pm

          “Long term consumption of ant-inflammatory medications may reduce Alzheimer’s risk over time, but newer studies suggest that taking them within 2 years of onset of symptoms does not protect against developing Alzheimer’s and may even have negative effects.” From “The Alzheimer’s Answer”, reduce your risk and keep your brain healthy. By Dr Marwan Sabbagh, geriatric neurologist. So taking them early may help, but not once the disease is developing, and at this stage symptoms are not apparent.

  • August 26, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    I came across this article the other day that I thought was interesting about angiogenesis (blood vessel formation) and RA.
    Do you know much more about this or have you done any research on a RA and cancer link or use of oncolytics in RA (other than the obvious one of MTX)?

  • August 27, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    This post was a nice surprise to find this morning! Very encouraging for me, since I am at high risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, due to family history. Then my brain starts working (good sign) and asks, “does it still count as a negative risk factor if RA disease activity is modified from the use of RA drugs?
    You mentioned being concerned about some short term memory problems you’ve experienced, I will venture to guess why it is completely normal and expected. Pain is distracting. You have a large family to care for. You put in an abundance of time and passion into your work and communicate with a multitude of people each day. There’s only so much space in the hard drive, files need to be compressed.

    • August 27, 2010 at 1:47 pm

      O the great joy of having such smart readers to banter with!! 😀 Smiling here that you are also giving me so much credit. :heart:

  • February 24, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    I’m not seeing any datelines, so it’s unclear whether these articles are news or old stuff. Consider starting each post with a dateline.

    • February 24, 2016 at 5:16 pm

      There is a date at the end of each article in the format of this WordPress theme.
      Also, most of them have good information regardless of date of publication. And many are “Updated.”


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