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November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. No doubt, you know someone or are at least aware of someone who suffers from this unforgiving, relentless disease. 

According to the NIH, Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that slowly destroys memory, thinking skills, and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. In most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first appear later in life. Experts suggest that more than six million Americans, most of them age 65 or older, may have dementia caused by Alzheimer’s.

But there is good news and hope. 

Researchers at the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS) found that an oxidation-antioxidant imbalance in the blood is an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease rather than a consequence. This breakthrough made by Ph.D. student Mohamed Raâfet Ben Khedher and postdoctoral researcher Mohamed Haddad, under the supervision of Professor Charles Ramassamy, provides an avenue for preventive intervention — the antioxidants intake.

The research team showed that oxidative markers, which are known to be involved in Alzheimer’s disease, indicate an increase up to five years before the onset of the disease. The study suggests that oxidation may be an early marker of this disease. The findings were published in the Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring (DADM) journal

Professor Ramassamy stated:

“Given that there is an increase in oxidative stress in people who develop the disease, we may regulate the antioxidant systems. For example, we could modulate the antioxidant systems, such as apolipoproteins J and D, which transport lipids and cholesterol in the blood and play an important role in brain function and Alzheimer’s disease. Another avenue would be to increase the intake of antioxidants through nutrition.” 

Currently, the only way to diagnose Alzheimer’s is through invasive and expensive tests. However, a simple blood test can detect the oxidative markers discovered by Professor Ramassamy’s research team. These markers are found in pockets released by all cells in the body plasma extracellular vesicles, including those in the brain.  

The research team honed in on the “sporadic” Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of the disease, which results primarily from the presence of the APOE4 susceptibility gene. They had previously studied this same form of the disease for other early markers.

“By identifying oxidative markers in the blood of individuals at risk five years before the onset of the disease, we could make recommendations to slow the onset of the disease and limit the risks,” the scientists wrote.

That’s fantastic news!