Amyloid Beta: Villain, or Hero in Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is the most predominant neurodegenerative disorder of our time, and is an imminent health crisis in countries like the United States, where 15 million people are expected to suffer from the disease by 2050.  Alzheimer’s disease is an age-related disorder that causes brain shrinkage, memory loss, and eventually, death.

This week we discuss major paradigm shifts in Alzheimer’s disease research.  For decades, Alzheimer’s disease researchers have argued over what causes the disease.  Some suspected clumps of tau protein to be the main culprit in Alzheimer’s, while others maligned amyloid beta as the villain.  Now, the field is largely united under the amyloid cascade hypothesis, but new evidence suggests that amyloid beta serves important immune functions.  This revelation that amyloid beta is protective is upturning Alzheimer’s disease research as we know it, and brings new relevance to recent discoveries into the links between traumatic brain injury and the microbiome as they relate to Alzheimer’s.

Connor Wander and Maya Gosztyla sit down to discuss new developments in the field, and what recent Alzheimer’s disease discoveries mean to patients, clinicians, and the public alike.  We also discuss practical strategies to delay Alzheimer’s disease onset that we find effective or particularly promising.  All based on the research, of course!


Maya operates and writes for an Alzheimer’s Disease education blog called AlzScience.  The AlzScience blog breaks down Alzheimer’s disease concepts in simple terms, with great graphic illustrations and links for further reading.  It’s a terrific place to start learning about Alzheimer’s or other neurodegenerative diseases.

For even further reading, I also recommend Alzforum.  Alzforum is a highly technical resource for Alzheimers disease scientists and anyone looking to keep up with the latest research.  Alzforum isn’t all about Alzheimer’s either- they keep tabs on all neurodegenerative diseases including Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s Disease, and other forms of dementia.


Don’t forget to check out Maya’s introductory interview (Episode 11) or Connor’s introductory podcasts (Episodes 2 and 5)!


Show notes:

We mentioned several key studies  in the podcast, which are listed below.


Keep an eye out for Maya’s review on amyloid beta’s protective immune functions!

Brush up with a great AlzScience post on general Alzheimer’s Disease

Or check out a more detailed post about pericytes, one of the gatekeeper cells to the brain


Further Reading

Here’s Dr. George Bloom’s review titled Amyloid-? and Tau: The Trigger and Bullet In Alzheimer’s Disease Pathogenesis

Here’s the landmark paper that showed Amyloid beta particles clumping on brain infections


Here’s the recent amyloid beta blood test study we mentioned.


Here’s a great review in print about the crosstalk between Neurons and Microglia in AD!

Here’s a study on the MEND protocol- lifestyle changes that improve cognitive function.

If we missed anything, or you’d like more information, feel free to contact SFS, or Maya at @sfromascientist and @AlzScience, respectively.

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