King's College London
Repressor Element 1-Silencing Transcription Factor (REST): A blood-based biomarker for Alzheimers disease linking molecular neuropathology with psychological stress
Alzheimer's Research UK
We have identified the mechanism driving Alzheimers disease. It is linked to a protein called REST (repressor element 1-silencing transcription factor), which regulates the brains response to stress. REST levels are reduced in the brains of Alzheimers sufferers and altered in psychological disorders linked with an abnormal stress response, including depression and anxiety, which are also risk factors for Alzheimers: REST levels connect psychological risk for Alzheimers with the biological mechanisms driving its pathology. We have measured REST in blood and found for the first time that, as in brain, it is reduced in Alzheimers disease.
We now want to examine a larger set of patients and controls and also people with Mild Cognitive Impairment to determine if REST levels in blood are an early indicator of progression to Alzheimers, and if they correlate with REST levels in the brain and other factors related to Alzheimers, such as brain size and memory performance.
We will also examine REST in healthy aged subjects compared to those with depression or anxiety, and will investigate the effect of a stress-reduction intervention on REST levels. This work will improve our ability to diagnose people at risk for Alzheimers and identify novel methods of intervention.