Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

Font Size

Stress-Linked Protein May Play Role in Alzheimer's

WebMD News from HealthDay

March 21, 2014 -- A problem in the brain's stress response system may be an important factor in the memory and thinking problems experienced by people with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, new research says.

Harvard scientists found that when the system is working normally, it can protect the brain from Alzheimer's-related proteins. But if it malfunctions, important areas of the brain begin to deteriorate, The New York Times reported.

Specifically, a protein called REST helps protect brain cells in healthy seniors from aging-related stresses, but levels of the protein are much lower in important brain regions in people with Alzheimer's and other dementias.

The protein could offer a target for the development of new drugs for dementias, The Times reported.

The findings were published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

"This is an extremely important study," Li-Huei Tsai, director of the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told The Times.

"This is the first study that is really starting to provide a plausible pathway to explain why some people are more vulnerable to Alzheimer's than other people," said Tsai, who was not involved in the study but wrote an accompanying commentary.

Further studies are needed to determine if lower REST levels are caused by or the result of brain degeneration in Alzheimer's patients or whether focusing on the protein could lead to effective treatments.

"You're going to see a lot of papers now following up on it," Dr. Eric Reiman, executive director of the Banner Alzheimer's Institute in Phoenix, told The Times.

"While it's a preliminary finding, it raises an avenue that hasn't been considered before. And if this provides a handle on which to understand normal brain aging, that will be great, too," said Reiman, who was not involved in the research.

Today on WebMD

Remember your finger
When it’s more than just forgetfulness.
senior man with serious expression
Which kinds are treatable?
senior man
Common symptoms to look for.
mri scan of human brain
Can drinking red wine reverse the disease?
eating blueberries
Colored mri of brain
Close up of elderly couple holding hands
mature woman
Woman comforting ailing mother
Senior woman with serious expression