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A study of BDNF gene expression in post-mortem brain tissue found that BDNF may provide a buffer against dementia, particularly when higher expression is found in the context of the classical Alzheimer’s brain pathology of amyloid-beta plaques and tau tangles.

From the article:

For the study, 535 people with an average age of 81 were followed until death, for an average of six years. They took yearly tests of their thinking and memory skills, and after death, a neurologist reviewed their records and determined whether they had dementia, some memory and thinking problems called mild cognitive impairment or no thinking and memory problems. Autopsies were conducted on their brains after death, and the amount of protein from BDNF gene expression in the brain was then measured.

[…]

The rate of cognitive decline was about 50 percent slower for those in the highest 10 percent of protein from BDNF gene expression compared to the lowest 10 percent. The effect of plaques and tangles in the brain on cognitive decline was reduced for people with high levels of BDNF. In the people with the highest amount of Alzheimer’s disease hallmarks in their brains, cognitive decline was about 40 percent slower for people with the highest amount of protein from BDNF gene expression compared to those with the lowest amount.

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