Age-related drop in body temperature worsens Alzheimer's disease

  • A mouse study suggests that some Alzheimer’s symptoms are made worse by falling body temperature — and are helped by improving body temperature.

Our bodies’ ability to regulate its temperature gets worse with age, along with a slowing metabolism. We also become more vulnerable to Alzheimer's as we age. A study compared mice genetically engineered to manifest Alzheimer's symptoms as they age with normal mice. They found that these transgenic mice were worse at maintaining their body temperature as they aged, with the difference reaching almost 1° Celsius by the age of 12 months.

Moreover, there was an increase in Alzheimer’s symptoms (such as a greater increase in abnormal tau proteins and loss of synaptic proteins) in transgenic mice when they were exposed to low temperatures.

But — and this is the exciting bit — when the mice were given one week in a 28°C environment, and their body temperature increased by 1°C, beta-amyloid production dropped substantially, and memory test results were comparable to those of normal mice.

While obviously these results need to be replicated in humans, the findings do suggest that improving body temperature might be helpful for those in early stages of Alzheimer’s. Body temperature can be increased through physical activity, diet, drugs, or simply by turning the heat up.