Serious diseases have been shown to be related to unhealthy protein chains that occur when proteins fold incorrectly. In an article in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, PNAS, a research team from Uppsala University have shown that similar protein chains in our environment may hasten the process.
Under certain conditions, incorrectly folded proteins can transmit diseases from one individual to another. This is the mechanism in diseases caused by prions, such as mad cow disease or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. In principle prions are normal proteins, but they have an abnormal three-dimensional structure. Prions bring about infections by prompting other normal protein molecules to assume the abnormal form. These lumps then aggregate into a chain, which starts a chain reaction that ultimately causes a fatal disease.
There are other human proteins that can also change their three-dimensional structure in a similar manner and give rise to unhealthy protein chains, so-called amyloid. Amyloid contributes to the occurrence of many different diseases, such as Alzheimer‚s disease and type-2 diabetes, but it is also a serious complication of long-term inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Anneli Waara | alfa
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