Research at Georgetown University Medical Center has led to a deeper understanding of the role that elevated cholesterol plays in the development of Alzheimers disease.
APP, a protein found in several major organs including the brain and heart, is present in all people. Its normal function in the body is unknown, but in people with Alzheimers, APP is abnormally processed and converted to beta amyloid protein. When fragments of this protein break off, they become entangled, leading to the plaques that are one of the characteristic structural abnormalities found in the brains of people suffering from Alzheimers.
"Past research has shown that high cholesterol levels appear to increase APP levels, which in turn leads to increased levels of beta amyloid protein and the risk of accumulation of amyloid beta peptide," said Vassilios Papadopoulos, PhD, professor of cell biology and pharmacology. "Our research showed that high cholesterol levels also increase the rate at which the amyloid beta peptides break off and form the tangles that kill brain cells."
Beth Porter | EurekAlert!
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