The continued exposure to copper can be a trigger for the onset of Alzheimer's disease and promote the progression of this type of dementia, according to the results of a study that has just been published in 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences' (PNAS).

The study's lead author, Rashid Deane, a research professor in the Department of Translational Neuromedicine at the Medical Center at the University of Rochester in New York (USA), explained that long-term copper accumulation deteriorates systems by those that beta-amyloid is removed from the brain, which favors that this protein accumulates in this organ and forms plaques that are associated with the development of Alzheimer's.

Copper is an essential trace element present in the tissues of the body, necessary for the proper development of various bodily functions, and whose deficit can cause anemia and osteoporosis. However, in excess, it is toxic, and if it accumulates in the organs, can cause brain and kidney disorders, hepatitis, and so on.

Excess copper is toxic and, if it accumulates in the organs, can cause brain and kidney disorders, among others.

The researchers conducted several experiments with mice, which administered doses of copper through water for three months. They observed that the mineral runs through the blood system and accumulates in the vessels that feed blood to the brain, accessing cells that help regulate the passage of molecules to and from the brain tissue.

Over time, copper deposits in these cells and inhibits the elimination of beta-amyloid protein from the brain, and this was also observed when tested with human cells. Subsequently, the scientists found that copper, in addition, stimulated the production of beta amyloid and caused inflammation of brain tissue, which can further facilitate breakage of the blood-brain barrier and promote the accumulation of toxins associated with Alzheimer's.

Gregory Petsko (Cornell) 3: Neurodegenerative disease: A potential gene therapy for ALS (November 2019).