Scientists find a new biomarker for vascular dementia

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Vascular dementia, a subtype of dementia characterized by symptoms such as memory loss and behavioral issues, is generally diagnosed in the elderly.

Affecting between 1% and 4% of individuals over the age of 65, it’s caused by vascular lesions disrupting the brain’s blood supply, leading to neuron death.

As there is currently no cure, prevention is the best available strategy, focusing on controlling risk factors like high blood pressure and diabetes.

However, a new study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia by a team from HUG and UNIGE may offer hope for better identification and treatment.

The Study

The research, led by Dina Zekry of HUG and Karl-Heinz Krause of UNIGE, focused on the role of the CCR5 receptor, a protein connected to the immune system’s chemical messengers, in the development of vascular dementia.

The team discovered that CCR5 is crucial for brain cells’ response to oxidative stress, which is involved in neuron death.

Moreover, they found a genetic association between CCR5 and another protein, apolipoprotein E (ApoE), which increases the risk of developing vascular dementia substantially.

Genetic Markers

The research has uncovered that individuals over the age of 80 who carry this specific genotype are eleven times more likely to develop vascular dementia, according to Benjamin Tournier, Ph.D., a key researcher in the study.

The study initially involved 362 people who contributed blood samples annually for five years and was later validated on an Italian cohort, fortifying the findings.

Clinical Implications and Future Directions

This research has substantial translational potential, meaning it could soon translate into concrete clinical applications.

Understanding the role of the CCR5 receptor in vascular dementia opens up possibilities for early identification of at-risk individuals and targeted therapies.

“This is a major advance that offers considerable hope for our society with regard to neurocognitive diseases as a whole,” said Prof Zekry.

Future treatment strategies could focus on improving the quality of life for affected individuals, based on these groundbreaking findings.


This new study brings an encouraging advancement in the battle against vascular dementia.

By identifying a new biomarker, CCR5, which has a complex genetic association with ApoE, researchers have opened up new avenues for understanding, preventing, and potentially treating this debilitating condition.

Further research is needed, but the study is a significant step forward in the quest to manage and possibly cure vascular dementia.

If you care about dementia, please read studies about the unexpected predictor of dementia and Alzheimer’s and findings of Scientists find key to fighting dementia, even with high genetic risk.

For more information about dementia, please see recent studies about Weak muscle function linked to increased risk of dementia and results showing that Older people with diabetes and tooth loss at greater risk of dementia.

The research findings can be found in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

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