Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists Identify 'Missing Link' in Process Leading to Alzheimer's Disease

09.02.2007
Scientists at the University of Virginia have identified what appears to be a major missing link in the process that destroys nerve cells in Alzheimer’s disease, an incurable disease that slowly destroys memory and cognitive abilities.

The findings are reported in the Nov. 20, 2006, issue of the Journal of Cell Biology and could eventually lead to new drugs that target and disrupt specific proteins that conspire in the brain to cause Alzheimer’s.

In Alzheimer’s disease, two kinds of abnormal structures accumulate in the brain: amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. The plaques contain fibrils that are made from protein fragments called “beta-amyloid peptides.” The tangles also are fibrous, but they are made from a different substance, a protein called “tau.” In the new U.Va. study, the researchers found a deadly connection between beta-amyloid and tau, one that occurs before they form plaques and tangles, respectively.

According to George Bloom, the senior author of the study and a professor of biology and cell biology at U.Va., this connection causes the swiftest, most sensitive and most dramatic toxic effect of beta-amyloid found so far. What makes it most remarkable, though, is that it requires a form of amyloid that represents the building blocks of plaques, so called “pre-fibrillar beta-amyloid,” and it only happens in cells that contain tau. Even though they account for just ~10 percent of the cells in the brain, nerve cells are the major source of tau, which likely explains why they are specifically attacked in Alzheimer’s disease.

... more about:
»Alzheimer »Beta-Amyloid »Nerve »Plaques »Synapse »Tau
The researchers used cultured mammalian cells that either did or did not make tau to study how cells respond to beta-amyloid. They found that pre-fibrillar, but not fibrillar beta-amyloid works together with tau to break apart microtubules — highways along which “synapse” replacement parts move rapidly in the nerve cell from where they are made to where they are needed. Synapses are connections between nerve cells, and in the brain they are the structural basis of memory and cognition. When nerve cells in the brain lose their microtubules they also lose the ability to replace worn out synapse parts, and synapses therefore disappear. The loss of synapses, and consequent loss of memories and cognitive skills, cannot be reversed, and can lead directly to nerve cell death.

“We think we’ve found one of the seminal cell biological events in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s and if we can figure out all of the steps in the process and understand each player at every step, it will represent many potential new drug targets for Alzheimer’s therapy,” Bloom said. “Our paper defines one of the earliest events that causes neurons to die in both early-onset familial Alzheimer’s and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. We believe this is the first evidence for the long elusive ‘missing link’ between amyloid and tau in Alzheimer’s disease.”

“This is a very significant finding that greatly improves our understanding of the mechanisms within the cell that ultimately lead to Alzheimer’s disease,” said Lester Binder, professor of cell and molecular biology at Northwestern University and a leading researcher on Alzheimer’s. Binder said he has already incorporated the U.Va. study into classes he teaches on the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

The study’s first author and lead investigator is Michelle King, a U.Va. research assistant professor of biology. Other investigators include Bloom, Ho-Man Kan and Alev Erisir of U.Va., Peter W. Baas of Drexel University and Charles G. Glabe of the University of California at Irvine.

George Bloom | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.virginia.edu

Further reports about: Alzheimer Beta-Amyloid Nerve Plaques Synapse Tau

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>