Alzheimer’s in Women – Stress Increases the Risk of Developing the Disease
According to a recent study, the effects of stress could be a reason for the development of Alzheimer’s disease in women.
In women, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease is twice as high as in men. To learn more about this inequality, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis looked at the effects of stress on the brain.
Different genders react to stress
To carry out their research, the scientists used male and female mice. The objective is to demonstrate stress’s effects on the brain according to sex. According to the researchers, under stressful situations, levels of the beta-amyloid protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease increase sharply in the brains of female mice but not in those of males.
More beta-amyloid produced under stress
Therefore, every 22 hours, the researchers measured the beta-amyloid protein level in the brains of the mice, starting 8 hours before they suffered stress. The stressful experience for these rodents was similar for both males and females. However, the scientists discovered that the responses in their brains were different.
Indeed, in female mice, beta-amyloid levels increased significantly within the first two hours. Until the end of the monitoring period, these levels are elevated. In contrast, in male mice, levels of this protein on average did not change, although, in about 20% of them, delayed and weak argumentation of beta-amyloid was noted.
Is stress a risk factor for Alzheimer’s in women?
In addition, other experiments have also demonstrated that stress causes the release of a hormone known as the “corticotropin-releasing factor.” In female mice, the stress hormone is absorbed, triggering a cascade of events that increases beta-amyloid levels in the brain. Male mice do not have this absorptive capacity. However, it is unknown whether this distinction is also present in humans.
We don’t believe stress is the only factor driving the gender difference in Alzheimer’s disease. Many other differences between People of all genders – relating to hormones, lifestyle, and other illnesses – undoubtedly contribute in one way or another. But that stress drives an aspect of that sex difference that I think is very likely.