High cholesterol levels are considered to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease including stroke. Therefore, many cholesterol lowering drugs have been developed by pharmaceutical companies in recent years.
One class of these drugs, statins, has been found to reduce the incidence of stroke and progression of Alzheimer’s disease when prophylactically administered.
In a recent paper published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Amalia Dolga and co-workers from the University of Groningen show that the statin lovastatin, in addition to lowering cholesterol, can also prevent nerve cells from dying in conditions that occur in Alzheimer’s disease.
Amalia Dolga discovered a previously unknown cascade of cellular signals in nerve cells that are responsible for this neuroprotective mechanism. This is an important finding because in many diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, death of nerve cells is generally thought to be a major cause of the dramatic symptoms that we find in these diseases.
Amalia Dolga found that statins stimulate nerve cells to produce a specific receptor molecule for a protein which plays a central role in the body’s immune response: Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha (TNF-a). Previous studies conducted by Dr. Ulrich Eisel’s group in the Department of Molecular Neurobiology (headed by Prof. Paul Luiten) have demonstrated that this specific TNF-a signaling pathway has a strong beneficial effect on nerve cells and can protect nerve cells against death. This finding now demonstrates that a widely given drug like a statin can activate this protective pathway.
Investigators may unlock mystery of how staph cells dodge the body's immune system
22.09.2017 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?
21.09.2017 | Boston Children's Hospital
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
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...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
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...
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...
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22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy