New studies indicate that high levels of an inflammation related protein might be related to Alzheimers and autoimmune diseases.

The protein, TNF, regulates inflammation and brain function. It’s found in elevated levels in the blood with autoimmune diseases, and is also located in the fluid that surrounds the brain in Alzheimer’s.

The two studies, conducted in Taiwan and the Netherlands, looked at the cognitive functions of patients with either rheumatoid arthritis or sarcoidosis, after anti-TNF therapy.  Just over 73% had improved cognitive functioning after six months of treatment.

Edward Tobinick MD, Director of the Institute for Neurological Research, said of the studies:

 “These studies suggest that TNF-induced cognitive dysfunction may be operative in a diverse group of inflammatory diseases and provide further support for investigating anti-TNF treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.”

“These studies all suggest that excess TNF may be associated with cognitive decline, and that this cognitive dysfunction may respond to anti-TNF treatment. Investigation of TNF-mediated mechanisms may lead to a new understanding of how the immune system influences brain function and may lead to new treatments for a variety of neurological disorders.”