Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Researchers find role RNA plays in progress of Alzheimer’s disease


Researchers at Ohio State University have found new clues to how free radicals can contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

C. Glenn Lin

The study found that oxidation – a type of damage to cells caused by free radicals – can damage certain kinds of messenger RNA in the brain. That damage may be related to Alzheimer’s.

Messenger RNA (or mRNA) is important because it turns DNA’s genetic code into the proteins needed for healthy brain function. But in an Alzheimer’s brain, up to half of the mRNA are damaged by oxidation; these oxidized mRNAs may process proteins abnormally, which may contribute to neuronal death.

“We know that free radicals can damage DNA, but nobody had looked at the effect of free radicals on RNA," said C. Glenn Lin, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of neuroscience at Ohio State. "When we looked for mRNA in the Alzheimer’s brain, we found significant amounts of oxidized mRNA in the frontal cortex, which is one of the main areas affected by the disease."

The researchers looked at the brains of deceased Alzheimer’s patients and found that only certain kinds of mRNA are susceptible to oxidative damage. There are many, some of which researchers have yet to discover, Lin said.

This is the first study to describe the specific types, or species, of mRNA oxidized in Alzheimer’s disease; until this point, researchers knew that the oxidation of mRNA played a role in Alzheimer’s disease, but they didn’t know which species were at fault.

Lin and Ohio State colleagues Xiu Shan and Hirofumi Tashiro, both with the department of neuroscience, reported their findings on November 10 in New Orleans at the annual Society for Neuroscience conference.

The researchers used tissue taken from the brains of 11 recently deceased Alzheimer’s patients (aged 65 to 86); seven age-matched controls; and two young control subjects (aged 22 and 49). Using a series of biochemical testing methods, they analyzed mRNA content from the hippocampus, frontal cortex and cerebellum of each person’s brain. They were looking for mRNA transcripts – replicas of DNA genetic code – to see if certain transcripts were more susceptible to oxidation.

The researchers also wanted to see if they would find the same level of mRNA oxidation in the brains of the age-matched and young controls to determine whether or not this level of mRNA oxidation was truly unique to Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease first attacks the hippocampus, virtually destroying its ability to help regulate memory. Damage to the frontal cortex – an area important for cognition – follows. The cerebellum is usually unaffected in Alzheimer’s, Lin said.

The researchers found high levels of oxidative damage in the frontal cortex of only the Alzheimer’s patients’ brains. They also found that only certain mRNA species were oxidized.

"We were somewhat surprised to find that free radical damage wasn’t a random hit in the brain," Lin said. "But many of the oxidized mRNA species were related to genes already known to be associated with Alzheimer’s disease."

This oxidation appears to start early in the disease process, Lin said, and the disease progressively worsens as proteins continue to accumulate.

"Protein aggregation is one of the hallmark features of Alzheimer’s disease," Lin said. "We think that mRNA oxidation and subsequent protein accumulation may strongly interfere with the brain’s normal cellular processes, which may contribute to the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s."

Lin said he hopes that some day researchers will be able to pinpoint the exact kinds of mRNA transcripts that cause protein aggregation.
"That might help us figure out what kind of proteins in the cell go haywire at an early stage of Alzheimer’s," he said. "Then, if we can somehow block that process, perhaps we could reduce the progression of the disease."

The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Alzheimer’s Association.

Contact: C. Glenn Lin; (614) 688-5433;
Written by Holly Wagner, (614) 292-8310;

Holly Wagner | OSU
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Inflammation Triggers Unsustainable Immune Response to Chronic Viral Infection
24.10.2016 | Universität Basel

nachricht Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

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: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

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...

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

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>