Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Neuronal Receptor Response May Help Explain Alzheimer’s Memory Loss

13.02.2006


Based on laboratory research, scientists at Georgetown University Medical Center have a new theory as to why people with Alzheimer’s disease have trouble performing even the simplest memory tasks, such as remembering a family member’s name.



That’s because they discovered a physical link between apolipoprotein E (APOE), the transport molecules known to play a role in development of the disease, and glutamate, a brain chemical necessary for establishing human memory.

In a study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the research team specifically found that receptors on the outside of brain nerve cells (neurons) that bind on to APOE and glutamate are connected on the surface of neurons, separated from each other by only a small protein.


While the researchers don’t know why these receptors are linked together, they say inefficient or higher-than-average levels of APOE in the brain could possibly be clogging these binding sites, preventing glutamate from activating the processes necessary to form memories.

“We have found out that two receptors previously thought to have nothing to do with each other do, in fact, interact, leading us to conclude that APOE affects the NMDA glutamate channel that is important in memory,” says the study’s senior author, G. William Rebeck, PhD, associate professor of neuroscience in Georgetown’s Biomedical Graduate Research Organization.

The researchers also hypothesize that this interaction might have something to do with development of Alzheimer’s disease, although they stress that at this early stage of research, this is impossible to prove.

Rebeck and first author Hyang-Sook Hoe, PhD, also of Georgetown, say that laboratory work now underway is attempting to unravel the relationship between APOE and NMDA receptors.

APOE is a protein that helps shuttle cholesterol and other non-soluble lipid particles around the body, moving these substances to where they are needed. All cells have receptors that bind on to APOE so that they can use lipids as needed, such as for quick energy, to store as fat for later use, or to repair wounds.

But researchers now know that APOE does more than distribute lipids, especially in the brain. About a decade ago, scientists linked APOE4, one of the three common forms of APOE, to development of Alzheimer’s disease, although the biological link between the protein and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s is not clear.

Based on recent research, Rebeck and others suspect that, in the brain, APOE also acts as a transporter, picking up lipids and perhaps other material that result from normal brain tissue wear and tear, or from trauma, and moving it to where it can be used or can be cleared away from the brain. Work in Rebeck’s lab found that APOE receptor 2 (ApoEr2), one of the eight different APOE receptor types, is crucial to both the development and operation of a normal brain.

Glutamate is a substance released at the synapse of neurons — the junction between one nerve cell and the next through which chemical messages are transmitted. Glutamate increases the strength of a synaptic response following stimulation. The NMDA glutamate receptor binds on to the drug NMDA, and also on to glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter that also stimulates nerve cell activity. Researchers know that the NMDA receptor is needed to produce the long-lasting synaptic response that is necessary in order to establish, or “lay down,” memory, Rebeck says. “The molecular basis of memory depends on NMDA receptor.”

In work leading up to this study, Rebeck and the research team found that adding APOE to neurons in laboratory culture blocked NMDA receptors. In this study, they confirmed through a series of experiments that the receptors for APOE and NMDA interacted, and that the protein that linked the two was PSD95, often found in neural synaptic junctions. Together, they form a multiprotein complex that could presumably be activated by either APOE, NMDA or glutamate.

Rebeck suspects that the APOE4 variant — the one linked to Alzheimer’s disease — is less efficient at removing lipid debris in the brain than is APOE2 or APOE3, and because of this, brain cells secrete more of the faulty protein to do the job. If too much APOE ends up binding to the APOE/NMDA receptor, one of two things could possibly happen, Rebeck says. In one scenario, the receptor becomes over-stimulated due to the accumulating presence of APOE, which could trigger a process called excitotoxicity that results in death of the neruons. Or, in the presence of damage and secreted APOE, the receptor “turns down” its activity — thus, hampering memory formation — until the brain is repaired. “Having damage around tells the brain not to think too much for awhile,” Rebeck says. But if APOE4 cannot clear up accumulating damage, the ability to make new memories, and use old ones, may be increasingly lost.

“This is, of course, speculation, but now we have new avenues in which we can explore the molecular basis of memory and possibly Alzheimer’s disease,” Rebeck says.

The study was funded by the NIH. Co-authors include Ana Pocivavsek and Geetaanjali Chakraborty also of the Department of Neuroscience, Zhanyan Fu, PhD, and Stefano Vicini, PhD, of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Georgetown University Medical Center, and Michael D. Ehlers, PhD, of Duke University Medical Center.

About Georgetown University Medical Center

Georgetown University Medical Center is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through our partnership with MedStar Health). Our mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis -- or "care of the whole person." The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing and Health Studies, both nationally ranked, the world-renowned Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization (BGRO).

Liz McDonald | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.georgetown.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves
17.08.2018 | Leibniz Universität Hannover

nachricht First transcription atlas of all wheat genes expands prospects for research and cultivation
17.08.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>