Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Forgetful mice show the way to treating Alzheimer’s

RIKEN researchers find link with protein build-up

The accumulation of a phosphate-laden, soluble form of tau protein in an important memory center of ageing mice is associated with loss of nerve cell connections or synapses and deterioration of memory, RIKEN researchers have found. Not only does this constitute the first sign of the onset of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), they suggest, but reduction or prevention of the build-up of such hyperphosphorylated tau may well lead to an effective treatment.

Two consistent biochemical hallmarks of AD in the brain are the presence of deposits of misfolded proteins known as amyloid beta plaques and insoluble aggregates of hyperphosphorylated tau proteins inside nerve cells called neurofibrillary tangles (NFT). Tau proteins help stabilize the internal skeleton of cells by interacting with microtubules. They are regulated by phosphates that can attach at various points along the molecule. Both NFTs and amyloid beta plaques form well before the onset of AD, and the role they play has been the subject of intense scrutiny.

In a recent paper in The EMBO Journal (1), researchers from RIKEN’s Brain Science Institute in Wako detail their work using transgenic mice to which a gene for human tau protein had been added together with a promoter to stimulate its activity in the nerve cells of the forebrain after birth. The researchers found that the human tau protein became hyperphosphorylated as the mice aged, but did not form NFTs. There was also no evidence of nerve cell loss.

Using the Morris water maze, whereby mice learn the position of a submerged escape platform in a tank of water by remembering cues to its position, the researchers determined that the transgenic mice also displayed impaired learning ability as they grew older compared with normal mice (Fig. 1). And with manganese-enhanced MRI imaging, a new technique for analyzing brain activity in small animals, they were able to match this with reduced activity and fewer synapses in the entorhinal cortex of the brain, critical to spatial memory. All of this occurred without NFT formation and before any possible appearance of amyloid beta plaques.

“Once NFTs form, we cannot rescue the nerve cells,” says research team spokesman, Akihiko Takashima. “But before the formation of NFTs, tau proteins form small soluble aggregates, and we know of several enzymes that can inhibit this. So we are now trying to detect the aggregates by means of the small compounds which bind to them or through positron emission tomography.”


1. Kimura, T., Yamashita, S., Fukuda, T., Park, J-M., Murayama, M., Mizoroki, T., Yoshiike, Y., Sahara, N. & Takashima, A. Hyperphosphorylated tau in parahippocampal cortex impairs place learning in aged mice expressing wild-type human tau. The EMBO Journal 26, 5143–5152 (2007).

Saeko Okada | ResearchSEA
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

nachricht New potential cancer treatment using microwaves to target deep tumors
12.10.2016 | University of Texas at Arlington

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: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

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

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>