A lack of oxygen in the brain experienced by stroke victims, or even people who are heavy snorers, can trigger changes that increase a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, say British researchers.
They found that reduced oxygen levels can affect brain cells called astrocytes, which normally clean up excess amounts of a neurotransmitter called glutamate. But a lack of oxygen decreases the ability of astrocytes to carry out this task, BBC News reported.
This results in a build-up of glutamate, which is toxic and can cause brain cell death if it's allowed to accumulate in large levels. This could eventually lead to the onset of Alzheimer's.
Previous research found that low oxygen levels can cause astrocytes to increase production of beta amyloid, the protein that accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.
This study suggests that increased production of beta-amyloid may block the expression of the proteins that astrocytes need in order to remove excess glutamate, BBC News reported.
The study appears in the Journal of Neuroscience. – (HealthDayNews)