Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Neuronal Receptor Response May Help Explain Alzheimer’s Memory Loss

13.02.2006


Based on laboratory research, scientists at Georgetown University Medical Center have a new theory as to why people with Alzheimer’s disease have trouble performing even the simplest memory tasks, such as remembering a family member’s name.



That’s because they discovered a physical link between apolipoprotein E (APOE), the transport molecules known to play a role in development of the disease, and glutamate, a brain chemical necessary for establishing human memory.

In a study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the research team specifically found that receptors on the outside of brain nerve cells (neurons) that bind on to APOE and glutamate are connected on the surface of neurons, separated from each other by only a small protein.


While the researchers don’t know why these receptors are linked together, they say inefficient or higher-than-average levels of APOE in the brain could possibly be clogging these binding sites, preventing glutamate from activating the processes necessary to form memories.

“We have found out that two receptors previously thought to have nothing to do with each other do, in fact, interact, leading us to conclude that APOE affects the NMDA glutamate channel that is important in memory,” says the study’s senior author, G. William Rebeck, PhD, associate professor of neuroscience in Georgetown’s Biomedical Graduate Research Organization.

The researchers also hypothesize that this interaction might have something to do with development of Alzheimer’s disease, although they stress that at this early stage of research, this is impossible to prove.

Rebeck and first author Hyang-Sook Hoe, PhD, also of Georgetown, say that laboratory work now underway is attempting to unravel the relationship between APOE and NMDA receptors.

APOE is a protein that helps shuttle cholesterol and other non-soluble lipid particles around the body, moving these substances to where they are needed. All cells have receptors that bind on to APOE so that they can use lipids as needed, such as for quick energy, to store as fat for later use, or to repair wounds.

But researchers now know that APOE does more than distribute lipids, especially in the brain. About a decade ago, scientists linked APOE4, one of the three common forms of APOE, to development of Alzheimer’s disease, although the biological link between the protein and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s is not clear.

Based on recent research, Rebeck and others suspect that, in the brain, APOE also acts as a transporter, picking up lipids and perhaps other material that result from normal brain tissue wear and tear, or from trauma, and moving it to where it can be used or can be cleared away from the brain. Work in Rebeck’s lab found that APOE receptor 2 (ApoEr2), one of the eight different APOE receptor types, is crucial to both the development and operation of a normal brain.

Glutamate is a substance released at the synapse of neurons — the junction between one nerve cell and the next through which chemical messages are transmitted. Glutamate increases the strength of a synaptic response following stimulation. The NMDA glutamate receptor binds on to the drug NMDA, and also on to glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter that also stimulates nerve cell activity. Researchers know that the NMDA receptor is needed to produce the long-lasting synaptic response that is necessary in order to establish, or “lay down,” memory, Rebeck says. “The molecular basis of memory depends on NMDA receptor.”

In work leading up to this study, Rebeck and the research team found that adding APOE to neurons in laboratory culture blocked NMDA receptors. In this study, they confirmed through a series of experiments that the receptors for APOE and NMDA interacted, and that the protein that linked the two was PSD95, often found in neural synaptic junctions. Together, they form a multiprotein complex that could presumably be activated by either APOE, NMDA or glutamate.

Rebeck suspects that the APOE4 variant — the one linked to Alzheimer’s disease — is less efficient at removing lipid debris in the brain than is APOE2 or APOE3, and because of this, brain cells secrete more of the faulty protein to do the job. If too much APOE ends up binding to the APOE/NMDA receptor, one of two things could possibly happen, Rebeck says. In one scenario, the receptor becomes over-stimulated due to the accumulating presence of APOE, which could trigger a process called excitotoxicity that results in death of the neruons. Or, in the presence of damage and secreted APOE, the receptor “turns down” its activity — thus, hampering memory formation — until the brain is repaired. “Having damage around tells the brain not to think too much for awhile,” Rebeck says. But if APOE4 cannot clear up accumulating damage, the ability to make new memories, and use old ones, may be increasingly lost.

“This is, of course, speculation, but now we have new avenues in which we can explore the molecular basis of memory and possibly Alzheimer’s disease,” Rebeck says.

The study was funded by the NIH. Co-authors include Ana Pocivavsek and Geetaanjali Chakraborty also of the Department of Neuroscience, Zhanyan Fu, PhD, and Stefano Vicini, PhD, of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Georgetown University Medical Center, and Michael D. Ehlers, PhD, of Duke University Medical Center.

About Georgetown University Medical Center

Georgetown University Medical Center is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through our partnership with MedStar Health). Our mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis -- or "care of the whole person." The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing and Health Studies, both nationally ranked, the world-renowned Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization (BGRO).

Liz McDonald | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.georgetown.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Newly discovered bacteria-binding protein in the intestine
08.12.2016 | University of Gothenburg

nachricht The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling
07.12.2016 | National Centre for Biological Sciences

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Silicon solar cell of ISFH yields 25% efficiency with passivating POLO contacts

08.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>