Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Lipids in the brain an important factor for Alzheimer's disease? Flemish scientists crack the code

11.12.2007
As the most common form of dementia in the Western world, Alzheimer's disease carries enormous implications for our ageing society. It is generally accepted that the disease is caused by Alzheimer peptide (A -peptide) protofibrils.

Until now, the conditions under which this type of protofibril is formed and leads to the disease remained unknown. VIB researchers have now discovered that certain lipids, present also in our brains, promote the formation of this protofibril. This discovery is of major importance because it opens up new avenues of research into finding medicines against Alzheimer's disease. It also explains earlier indications of a link between lipids and Alzheimer's disease.

Misfolded proteins: cause of various diseases

The biological functioning of cells depends on the right folding of thousands of proteins. Normally, cells automatically correct misfolded proteins. In diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson's and Creutzfeld-Jacob's, however, misfolded proteins are deposited in the body's tissues. In Alzheimer's disease – the most common form of dementia, which in Belgium alone affects about 100,000 people – misfolding of the A -amyloid peptide leads in various stages to the formation of plaques. These plaques consist of accumulations of so-called fibrils and is not in itself toxic. One of the intermediary stages in the formation of plaques is the formation of the protofibril form of the A -peptide. Protofibrils are toxic for brain cells, causing the poisoned cells to die off and leading to memory loss. This is why these protofibrils are considered to be the main cause of the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

Surrounding brain lipids destabilize plaques

VIB researchers were able, using certain lipids, to convert the fibrils into protofibrils. This came as a surprise, for it had long been assumed that the fibrils – and the plaque they cause – are stable and that once they have formed they cannot disappear or be transformed into another structure. Ivo Martins, Joost Schymkowitz and Frederic Rousseau (VIB, Vrije Universiteit Brussel), and Inna Kupperstein and Bart De Strooper (VIB, K.U.Leuven) have shown that certain lipids normally occurring in the brain can destabilize the fibrils, and therefore also the plaque that is so typical of Alzheimer's disease. The liberated protofibrils are toxic for brain cells, causing them to die off – at least in vitro. The researchers were able to show that this also happens in vivo by injecting laboratory animals (mice) with the protofibrils. This caused memory loss in the mice. The researchers explain that these symptoms are comparable with those of early stage dementia in humans.

Producing protofibrils for new applications in medicine

The discovery opens up a new avenue of research into possible medicines against Alzheimer's disease. It indicates that substances that neutralize the toxicity or the formation of protofibrils might be able to be used as medicines against Alzheimer's disease. With the discovery of a method for producing toxic protofibrils, the researchers at the VIB have provided a good model for finding medicines that could counteract the formation of protofibrils.

Their research also indicates that the concentration of lipids in the brain greatly influences the biological equilibrium between non-toxic plaques and toxic oligomeres. These results open up new avenues of research into the effects of fat metabolism for diseases such as Alzheimer's.

The research clearly exhibits the advantages to be gleaned from bundling different research groups' expertise. The important results are the fruit of a close collaboration between researchers at the VIB Switch Laboratory, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and the VIB Department of Molecular and Developmental Genetics, K.U.Leuven.

Sooike Stoops | alfa
Further information:
http://www.vib.be

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Biofilm discovery suggests new way to prevent dangerous infections
23.05.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

nachricht Another reason to exercise: Burning bone fat -- a key to better bone health
19.05.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

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: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>