Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Alzheimer’s Disease: Cutting off Immune Response Promises New Approach to Therapy

20.12.2012
Researchers in Bonn, Germany, have identified a protein as a potential target for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

The molecular complex is part of the immune system and a driving force for inflammatory responses of the brain. Blocking its activity may pave the way for new possibilities for therapy, the researchers report in the current issue of “Nature.” The study involved scientists from Germany, Spain and the United States. The Bonn site of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and the University of Bonn are leading contributors.

The complex named “NLRP3 inflammasome” is composed of several proteins and plays a key role in the immune system. It resembles a fire alarm sensor that triggers a chain reaction when activated. As a result, immune cells are mobilized and substances that foster inflammation are released. This process can be triggered by infections, which are subsequently suppressed by the immune response. However, in the case of Alzheimer’s disease, the activation of the molecular alarm may have negative consequences: nerve cells are damaged and die. Ultimately, this leads to the loss of brain function and mental capabilities in humans.

Alzheimer’s disease is accompanied with deposits in the brain. That these so-called “plaques” have the capability to activate the NLRP3 inflammasome had already been identified by investigating individual cells. But the exact effect on the organism was unknown. “It was unclear what consequences an increased activity of the NLRP3 inflammasome could have on the brain,” explains Prof. Michael Heneka, who conducts research at both, the DZNE and the University of Bonn. Working in a team with immune researcher Eicke Latz as well as with other colleagues, Heneka has now been able to show that the protein complex does in fact play a determining role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Studies involved humans and mice

The researchers collected a comprehensive chain of evidences: they examined both the brains of deceased Alzheimer patients and of mice who exhibited behavioural disorders that are typically associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers found an activated form of the NLRP3 inflammasome in both cases.

Looking at another group of mice, the scientists examined possibilities for suppressing inflammatory reactions. To achieve this, they removed the genes that trigger production of the NLRP3 inflammasome. Therefore, these mice were no longer able to synthesize the protein complex. As a result, the animals developed only relatively mild symptoms of the disease. Moreover, their brains showed only reduced amounts of the damaging plaques.

“We have stumbled upon a critical factor in the development process of Alzheimer’s. Given these findings it appears to be a very promising possibility to block the activity of the inflammasome,” comments Heneka. In his view, proper pharmaceuticals might be able to stop a chain reaction that would otherwise result in the inflammation of brain cells. “At present various options are being pursued to act upon the course of the disease,” says the neuroscientist. “Our results points to a new possibility. Nevertheless, we are still in the process of doing basic research.”

However, the group of scientists in Bonn is already making plans for the future. Eicke Latz’s team, which also made significant contributions to the latest study, has already begun to search for active components that could block the NLRP3 inflammasome. “The testing of potential substances in the laboratory would be a next step. We hope to start as early as next year,” says Heneka.

Original Publication:
“NLRP3 is activated in Alzheimer´s disease and contributes to pathology in APP/PS1 mice,” Michael T. Heneka, Markus P. Kummer, Andrea Stutz, Andrea Delekate, Stephanie Schwartz, Ana Vieira Saecker, Angelika Griep, Daisy Axt, Anita Remus, Te-Chen Tzeng, Ellen Gelpi, Annett Halle, Martin Korte, Eicke Latz, Douglas Golenbock, Nature, DOI: http://10.1038/nature11729

The German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) investigates the causes of diseases of the nervous system and develops strategies for prevention, treatment and care. It is an institution of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres with sites in Berlin, Bonn, Dresden, Göttingen, Magdeburg, Munich, Rostock/Greifswald, Tübingen and Witten. The DZNE cooperates closely with universities, their clinics and other research facilities. Its cooperation partners in Bonn are the Caesar Research Center, the University of Bonn and the University Clinic Bonn. Website: http://www.dzne.de/en

Further Information:
Another press release (also under embargo) on this publication in Nature is available through the press office of the University of Bonn. Please, refer to
http://www3.uni-bonn.de/einrichtungen/universitaetsverwaltung/
organisationsplan/dezernat-8/presse-und-kommunikation

Dr. Marcus Neitzert | idw
Further information:
http://www.dzne.de/en

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?
21.09.2017 | Boston Children's Hospital

nachricht Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex
21.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Hirnforschung

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

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...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

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

Comet or asteroid? Hubble discovers that a unique object is a binary

21.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cnidarians remotely control bacteria

21.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?

21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>