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Discovering a close link between Alzheimer's disease and circadian rhythms.

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Peeyush Ghalot
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By investigating the rhythmic operation of immune cells and discovering the molecular 'timers' that govern them, scientists have discovered a probable mechanism between abnormalities in circadian rhythms and the build-up of proteins linked to Alzheimer's disease. Circadian rhythms are the everyday rhythms of biological functions that are governed by our sleep-wake cycles and are linked to our natural body clock. Scientists have yet to discover a direct link between circadian rhythms and the activity of immune cells charged with clearing up amyloid plaques.

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According to a previous study, even one night of poor sleep induces an increase in amyloid-beta proteins, and a week of poor sleep promotes a build-up of another protein called tau. However, it is still unknown whether circadian clock abnormalities are a causal cause or a physiological consequence of Alzheimer's disease. Keep in mind that this study employed immune cells taken from the bone marrow of genetically engineered mice as a surrogate for what happens in people to explore probable processes relating circadian clock disturbances and Alzheimer's disease protein. It's also important to note that amyloid proteins aren't the only factor in Alzheimer's disease. Other prominent hypothesis, such as tangles of tau protein, have emerged in the aftermath of unsuccessful therapeutic studies and rising evidence that amyloid-beta is not the primary cause of illness. Another new study reveals that amyloid proteins are late comers to Alzheimer's disease rather than an early trigger and that poor sleep isn't the main risk factor. Understanding the circadian timing of immune cells might have consequences for other conditions associated with inflammation, such as Alzheimer's disease and depression.

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