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By Sean Henahan, Access Excellence 

Washington, DC (3/10/97)  The over-the-counter pain relief medication ibuprofen (Motrin et al.) and related drugs appear  to  reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to a long-term study conducted by the National Institute on Aging. 

The  15 year study, part of a larger study known as the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, followed 1,686 people, some of whom were taking ibuprofen and drugs in the same class of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and some who were not. Those who were taking NSAIDs on a regular basis had half the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease as those who were not. The protective effect was seen in as little as two years, and seemed to increase with time. 

The neuroprotective effects observed with NSAIDs were not seen with acetaminophen (Tylenol etc.) nor aspirin. Researchers were less surprised about the effects of acetaminophen than aspirin, since the former has few  anti-inflammatory properties. However, the researchers believe aspirin, a potent anti-inflammatory,  in higher doses over a long period of time might still prove beneficial. 

"Many scientists now believe that inflammation may be an important component of the Alzheimer's disease process. The amyloid and protein plaques found in Alzheimer's patient's brains, which are hallmarks of the disease,  may be indicative of an inflammatory response," noted  Claudia Kawas, M.D, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. 

NSAIDs are frequently used for the treatment of  the symptoms of arthritis and other problems associated with aging. The cardioprotective and anti-cancer effects reported in association with aspirin use have not been reported in association with NSAIDs. NSAIDs are believed to influence inflammation by interfering with the actions of inflammation-inducing  proteins. However, long-term use of NSAIDs or aspirin can carry significant risks, notably the development of stomach ulcers and kidney disease. 

"Currently, we don't know what interactions NSAIDs could have  with other Alzheimer's drugs in the pipeline. What the effectiveness of NSAIDs tells us about the inflammatory response and the Alzheimer's disease process will be critically important to developing even better agents and approaches," said E. Jeffrey Metter, M.D., also of Johns Hopkins. 

Additional studies to determine the neuroprotective effects of NSAIDs are planned. 

The research appears in the March, 1997 issue of Neurology (Vol 48, No.3, pp 626-632).   

Related information on the Internet 

AE Neuroscience Seminar
AE�Neuroscience Chat 

NIA's Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center (ADEAR) 
AE: Chicken Brain Transplant
AE: Alzheimer's Gene
AE: Alzheimer's Demographics
AE:�Gene Therapy For Alzheimer's? 

Alzheimer's Disease Homepage
Alzheimer's Association
Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia

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