Brain cell breakthrough brings Alzheimer's treatment closer to reality
Researchers have found that increased brain cell activity boosts brain fluid levels of a protein linked to Alzheimer's disease.
Tau protein is the main component of neurofibrillary tangles, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. It has been linked to other neurodegenerative disorders, including frontotemporal dementia, supranuclear palsy and corticobasal degeneration.
"Healthy brain cells normally release tau into the cerebrospinal fluid and the interstitial fluid that surrounds them, but this is the first time we've linked that release in living animals to brain cell activity," senior author David M. Holtzman from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said.
"Understanding this link should help advance our efforts to treat Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative disorders associated with the tau protein," the researcher said.
So far, the researchers only have been able to measure single copies of tau in brain fluid, not the tau clumps. They are looking for a way to detect the clumps.
If brain cells can secrete and take in clumps of tau, the scientists believe, these clumps may cause previously normal tau in the receiving cell to become corrupted, fostering the spread of a form of tau involved in disease.
The study was published in the journal of Experimental Medicine.
(Posted on 26-02-2014)