Keith Vossel, MD: Could a new blood biomarker help predict Alzheimer's risk?

Dr. Keith Vossel

"The accumulation of amyloid plaques and tangled tau proteins in the brain has long been considered the primary cause of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Drug development has tended to focus on targeting amyloid and tau, neglecting the potential role of other brain processes, such as the neuroimmune system.

Now, new research from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine suggests that astrocytes, which are star-shaped brain cells, play a crucial role in determining the progression of Alzheimer’s.

AstrocytesTrusted Source are abundant in brain tissue. Alongside other glial cells, the brain’s resident immune cells, astrocytes support neurons by providing them with nutrients, oxygen, and protection against pathogens.

Previously the role of astrocytes in neuronal communication had been overlooked since glial cells do not conduct electricity like neurons. But the University of Pittsburg study challenges this notion and sheds light on the critical role of astrocytes in brain health and disease.


Dr. Keith Vossel, professor of neurology and director of the Mary S. Easton Center for Research and Care at the University of California, Los Angeles, not involved in the research, told MNT that “once considered glue-like cells, astrocytes have many important functions in the brain, including immune functions and regulating brain activity.”

“Astrocytes increase in number and change their activity in response to brain injury or infection. This is called astrocyte reactivity,” Dr. Vossel explained."

Read more at Medical News Today.