A new doctoral thesis by Sara K. Bengtsson, Department of Clinical Sciences, Umeå University, Sweden, examines the reason why chronic stress can increase one’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Allopregnanolon, one of the steroids produced by a body under stress, can inhibit general brain activity. The thesis shows that chronically elevated levels of allopregnanolone accelerated Alzheimer’s disease development in genetically altered mice models. The mice with Alzheimer’s disease showed impaired learning and memory. They had also increased brain levels of beta-amyloids, which are the proteins that form plaques in Alzheimer's disease.