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Blood tests for vitamin D levels may play an important role in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease patients. New research indicates that the nutrient activates processes in the immune system that may support health brain function.
The University of California, Los Angeles researchers who conducted the study noted that previous investigations have shown that the condition of some Alzheimer's disease patients improves when they are given vitamin D supplements. The findings may help explain why.
After study blood test samples from a group of Alzheimer's disease patients, the researchers found that vitamin D activates immune system called macrophages, which are responsible for scouring the brain and body for waste products and destroying them.
When these vitamin D-activated macrophages were placed in a culture with amyloid plaque, a protein that builds up in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients and is thought to be a cause of cognitive impairment, the researchers found that the immune system cells were better able to destroy the harmful substance.
"This new study helped clarify the key mechanisms involved, which will help us better understand the usefulness of vitamin as possible therapies for Alzheimer's disease," said lead researcher David Geffen.
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