Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Herpes research uncovers possible clue to Alzheimer’s disease

07.11.2003


Researchers at Brown University and the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Mass., have found a physical connection between the herpes simplex virus and amyloid precursor protein, a protein that breaks down to form a major component of the amyloid plaques that are consistently present in the brains of persons with Alzheimer’s disease.



Amyloid precursor protein – or APP – breaks down to form beta-amyloid. There is strong evidence, according to the researchers, that beta-amyloid is the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s.

While the scientists caution that no conclusions about Alzheimer’s can be drawn from their findings, Dr. Elaine Bearer, senior research scientist and associate professor in Brown’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, believes the work does in fact link the common herpes virus of cold sores with the neurodegenerative disorder. Bearer is also a summer investigator at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Mass.


Past studies have implicated the herpes virus in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, but agreement within the scientific community on the value of that research is far from universal. Bearer expects that the discovery of a physical interaction between APP and the herpes virus will trigger further investigations into the role the virus may play in the disease, and even into possible uses of the virus in therapy.

The scientists stress that none of what they found should cause alarm among those who have at one time had a cold sore. According to Bearer, nearly 85 percent of us harbor the herpes simplex virus and most of us never develop Alzheimer’s.

The researchers discovered the interaction between the herpes simplex virus (HSV) and APP while conducting experiments in the giant axon of squid at the Marine Biological Laboratory. Prasanna Satpute-Krishnan and Joseph A. DeGiorgis, both doctoral candidates in Brown’s graduate program at the time of the research, were seeking to learn how viruses are carried around the body – within cells and from one cell to another. Specifically, they were examining how the herpes simplex virus travels back to the lip area to form a recurring blister after remaining latent for some time in the trigeminal ganglion, a collection of nerve cells next to the brain.

What they found was that the herpes virus was interacting with APP, a putative motor receptor that recruits a microtubular motor, kinesin, for transport through neurons. This was the first time scientists had observed any physical interaction between the herpes virus and APP.

Without the APP, the virus moves backward up an axon (a long extension of a neuron) from the area of the lip towards the trigeminal ganglion. But the Brown researchers discovered that once it interacts with the APP, the virus travels in the opposite direction – what scientists describe as anterograde transport – back down to the lip. The researchers also found that once coupled with the APP, the virus moves remarkably fast.

“It’s as if the virus hijacks a car – which in this case would be the kinesin – and the APP is the driver,” explains Bearer. “The virus takes the APP where it wants to be, not where the APP wants to be.”

The build-up of beta-amyloid (formed in the breakdown of APP) is found consistently in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, and many scientists are now convinced it is involved in the disease, according to Satpute-Krishnan. Questions persist, however, as to what that involvement is, and why, when APP is found in all of us, it causes problems only in a few.

Perhaps, Bearer speculates, when the APP is co-opted by the herpes virus, the APP breaks down at a location where it would not normally appear – and at a very different rate. “When APP piles up around neurons, the neurons die,” she explains. “But we don’t yet know if this is a secondary or a primary cause of Alzheimer’s.”

“At this point, of course, we don’t yet know whether herpes plays a causal role in Alzheimer’s disease,” DeGiorgis notes. “But our research does provide some interesting new insight into both diseases.”

A paper outlining the findings of the Brown/MBL researchers – titled “Fast Anterograde Transport of Herpes Simplex Virus: Role of Amyloid Precursor Protein” – will appear in the December issue of Aging Cell, published by Blackwell Publishing in England and at the publisher’s “OnlineEarly” site [http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/links/toc/ace].

Satpute-Krishnan, the first author of the paper, is a graduate student in Brown’s Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry Graduate Program. Bearer, who holds both an M.D. and a Ph.D., is an experimental pathologist. DeGiorgis, who earned his Ph.D. in Bearer’s lab last year, is now with the National Institutes of Health.

Experiments in this study were conducted in the giant axon of squid, a model widely used in research because with a diameter of nearly a millimeter it is 1,000 times thicker than a human axon. Researchers are able to inject substances into the giant axon and then observe the behavior of those substances through high-powered microscopes.

“It is pretty extraordinary that breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s disease and in the pathogenesis of herpes virus should be made using the squid of the North Atlantic sea,” notes Bearer.

Last summer Brown University and the Marine Biological Laboratory formalized their alliance for teaching and research. The affiliation between the two institutions established the Brown-MBL Graduate Program in Biological and Environmental Sciences. In addition, it will promote faculty exchanges and research collaborations, such as the one conducted by Satpute-Krishnan, DeGiorgis and Bearer.

The affiliation between MBL and Brown takes advantage of the geographic proximity of the two institutions, uniting their faculty expertise in biology and medicine, particularly for molecular biology, genomics, ecosystems studies, environmental science, global infectious diseases, neuroscience and public health. Student recruitment for the Brown-MBL Graduate Program got under way this fall, with the first students expected to begin their studies next year.

MBL is an internationally known, independent, nonprofit institution dedicated to improving the human condition through creative research and education in the biological, biomedical and environmental sciences. Founded in 1888, the MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in the Western Hemisphere.

Cynthia Ferguson | Brown University
Further information:
http://www.brown.edu/Administration/News_Bureau

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis
23.01.2017 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Team discovers how bacteria exploit a chink in the body's armor
20.01.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Arctic melt ponds form when meltwater clogs ice pores

24.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Synthetic nanoparticles achieve the complexity of protein molecules

24.01.2017 | Life Sciences

PPPL physicist uncovers clues to mechanism behind magnetic reconnection

24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>