New Findings on the Role of Inflammation in Alzheimer’s Disease

Recent findings from researchers at the University of Southampton in the U.K. have caused much excitement in the field of Alzheimer’s research. Their study, which was conducted on mice, looked at microglial cell activity. Microglial cells play an important role in regulating inflammation in the brain—in general, more microglial cell activity means more inflammation. Researchers found that certain drugs reduced brain inflammation and reduced memory problems in mice by inhibiting the gene CSF1R, which has a role in microglial cell activation. This is of interest in the field of Alzheimer’s disease research, as recent research shows that inflammation may be an important cause of Alzheimer’s.

Previous research on Alzheimer’s has focused on treating amyloid-ß plaques (a major feature of the disease), but progress has been limited. This new study supports the idea that inflammation may actually be one of the main factors behind Alzheimer’s disease. Results like these could eventually lead to human trials of drugs that inhibit CSF1R or other causes of inflammation.

As is the case with any drug, it will be a long time before a treatment for the inhibition of CSF1R is available to the public. But this study does show that reducing inflammation may be a promising way to treat Alzheimer’s disease. In the meantime, a number of studies have shown that by adjusting diet you may be able to reduce not just the risk of Alzheimer’s disease but general cognitive decline as well. One diet that is particularly promising is the Mediterranean diet, which includes foods high in healthy omega-3 fats, a known anti-inflammatory.

(Feature photo: Neurons in the brain, courtesy of

Marcel Davidse

Marcel Davidse was an intern with the Healthy Aging Project in the fall of 2016, and graduated in December 2016 from the Department of Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado Boulder.