N-acetylglucosamine prevents protein aggregation
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Cologne have found that a naturally occurring molecule has the ability to enhance defense mechanisms against neurodegenerative diseases. Feeding this particular metabolite to the small round worm Caenorhabditis elegans, helps clear toxic protein aggregates in the body and extends life span.
Image of a C. elegans roundworm. The blue fluorescence highlights the tissue producing most N-acetylglucosamine.
© MPI for the Biology of Ageing
During ageing, proteins in the human body tend to aggregate. At a certain point, protein aggregation becomes toxic, overloads the cell, and thus prevents it from maintaining normal function. Damage can occur, particularly in neurons, and may result in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or Huntington’s disease.
By studying model organisms like Caenorhabditis elegans, scientists have begun to uncover the mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration, and thus define possible targets for both therapy and prevention of those diseases.
“Although we cannot measure dementia in worms“, explains Martin Denzel of the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, “we can observe proteins that we also know from human diseases like Alzheimer’s to be toxic by measuring effects on neuromuscular function. This gives us insight into how Alzheimer actually progresses on the molecular level“.
Now, the scientists Martin Denzel, Nadia Storm, and Max Planck Director Adam Antebi have discovered that a substance called N-acetylglucosamine apparently stimulates the body’s own defense mechanism against such toxicity.
This metabolite occurs naturally in the organism. If it is additionally fed to the worm, “we can achieve very dramatic benefits“, says Denzel. „It is a broad-spectrum effect that alleviates protein toxicity in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease models in the worm, and it even extends their life span.“
This molecule apparently plays a crucial role in quality control mechanisms that keep the body healthy. It helps the organism to clear toxic levels of protein aggregation, both preventing aggregates from forming and clearing already existing ones.
As a result, onset of paralysis is delayed in models of neurodegeneration - How exactly the molecule achieves this effect is yet to be uncovered. “And we still don’t know whether it also works in higher animals and humans“, says Antebi. “But as we also have these metabolites in our cells, this gives good reason to suspect that similar mechanisms might work in humans.”
Dr. Adam Antebi | Max-Planck-Institute
Newly discovered 'multicomponent' virus can infect animals
26.08.2016 | US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases
Symmetry crucial for building key biomaterial collagen in the lab
26.08.2016 | University of Wisconsin-Madison
Scientists and engineers striving to create the next machine-age marvel--whether it be a more aerodynamic rocket, a faster race car, or a higher-efficiency jet...
Waveguides are widely used for filtering, confining, guiding, coupling or splitting beams of visible light. However, creating waveguides that could do the same for X-rays has posed tremendous challenges in fabrication, so they are still only in an early stage of development.
In the latest issue of Acta Crystallographica Section A: Foundations and Advances , Sarah Hoffmann-Urlaub and Tim Salditt report the fabrication and testing of...
Electrochemists at TU Graz have managed to use monocrystalline semiconductor silicon as an active storage electrode in lithium batteries. This enables an integrated power supply to be made for microchips with a rechargeable battery.
Small electrical gadgets, such as mobile phones, tablets or notebooks, are indispensable accompaniments of everyday life. Integrated circuits in the interiors...
Recent findings indicating the possible discovery of a previously unknown subatomic particle may be evidence of a fifth fundamental force of nature, according...
A nanocrystalline material that rapidly makes white light out of blue light has been developed by KAUST researchers.
25.08.2016 | Event News
24.08.2016 | Event News
12.08.2016 | Event News
26.08.2016 | Health and Medicine
26.08.2016 | Earth Sciences
26.08.2016 | Life Sciences