Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Friend or Foe: Could a Protein Linked to Alzheimer’s Be Related to Vision Loss in Seniors?

17.07.2006
Researchers at Saint Louis University School of Medicine have received nearly half a million dollars from the National Eye Institute to study a protein thought to be linked to Alzheimer’s disease and its possible relationship to age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in people over 60.

Apolipoprotein E (apoE) is a protein component that helps transport cholesterol in the blood between the liver and other tissues, says Steven Fliesler, Ph.D., professor and director of research in the department of ophthalmology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and lead investigator. It also is present in the brain and other nervous tissues, including the retina.

There are three genetically determined forms of apoE (apoE-2, apoE-3 and apoE-4), each encoded by a specific sequence of DNA . Studies suggest that apoE-3 may play a protective role in the nervous system, assisting in the repair of nervous tissue, such as after a brain injury.

On the other hand, people who have elevated levels of the apoE-4 version of the protein are at an increased risk for developing the late onset, familial type of Alzheimer’s disease.

The mystery SLU researchers are now trying to solve is why the reverse seems to be true when it comes to advanced macular degeneration.

“Paradoxically, the exact opposite trend seems to prevail,” Fliesler says. “ApoE-4 seems to correlate with a reduced incidence of macular degeneration.”

For the next two years, Fliesler and his team will test whether the presence of one or the other form of apoE slows down, quickens, or does essentially nothing to the rate of retinal degeneration in genetically altered mice that undergo progressive, age-dependent vision loss. Fliesler’s team will selectively introduce either the human apoE-3 or apoE-4 gene into the mice and then study what effects this may have on the structure and function of their retinas.

“We hope our experiments with transgenic mice will provide some clues as to what apoE is doing in the retina and why one form of apoE versus another would predispose someone to having macular degeneration,” Fliesler says. “At this point, it makes no sense to me that the same molecule would have very different actions in the brain versus the retina, both of which are nervous tissue,” he says.

Macular degeneration, which affects nearly 12 million people in the United States - about one in four older adults – and about 50 million worldwide, is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, known as the macula. The macula is responsible for focusing central vision in the eye, and it controls the ability to read, drive a car, recognize faces or colors and see objects in fine detail.

As people age, their chances for developing eye diseases increase dramatically. Smoking is also a strong risk factor, as it seems to be for other age-related diseases.

As the baby boomers get older and the average human lifespan continues to increase, these diseases will have an increasingly significant impact on society, including quality of life for the elderly as well as worldwide escalating healthcare costs, says Fliesler.

Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first M.D. degree west of the Mississippi River. Saint Louis University School of Medicine is a pioneer in geriatric medicine, organ transplantation, chronic disease prevention, cardiovascular disease, neurosciences and vaccine research, among others. The School of Medicine trains physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health services on a local, national and international level.

Rachel Otto | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.slu.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

nachricht Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA'S OSIRIS-REx spacecraft slingshots past Earth

25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

MRI contrast agent locates and distinguishes aggressive from slow-growing breast cancer

25.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>