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.
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
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
NIA's Alzheimer's Disease Education
and Referral Center (ADEAR)
AE: Chicken Brain Transplant
AE: Alzheimer's Demographics
AE:�Gene Therapy For
Alzheimer's Disease Homepage
Institute for Brain Aging