Neomed Research Links Bone Density Loss, Alzheimer’s

ROOTSTOWN, Ohio – Researchers at Northeast Ohio Medical University have identified a connection between areas of the brain stem and changes to the bone density, signaling that bones “may be one of the earliest indicators of brain degeneration in Alzheimer’s disease.”

In a preclinical model of the degenerative disease, researchers found that early reductions in bone mineral density, or BMD, are due to degeneration in an area of the brain stem that produces serotonin, a chemical that controls mood and sleep, which are often among the earliest aspects of life to be affected by Alzheimer’s.

The study, led by pharmaceutical sciences professor Dr. Christine Dengler-Crish, will be published in the upcoming issue of “Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.” Also participating in research were graduate students Matthew Smith and Gina Wilson.

“Measurement of bone density, which is routinely performed in the clinic, could serve as a useful biomarker for assessing [Alzheimer’s disease] risk in our aging population,” Dengler-Crish said in a release. “The findings of this study motivate us to explore the serotonin system as a potential new therapeutic target for this devastating disease.”

More than five million Americans, including 210,000 in Ohio, have Alzheimer’s. The disease is the No. 6 cause of death in the country and less than 5% of cases, according to Dengler-Crish, are due “to a clear genetic reason,” making it difficult to predict who is at risk for the disease.

Dengler-Crish was recently named association editor for the “Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease,” opening up new pathways for collaboration.

“I am thrilled to be able to assist the publication of researchers’ innovative work, here and across the world,” she said. “Now more than ever, there is hope that we soon will be able to slow, stop or reverse the progression of these destructive neurodegenerative conditions.”

More of her research can be found here and here.


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