Indian zebrafish provides deeper insight into Alzheimer's disease
Zebrafish, which are originally from India, but also a popular aquarium fish, has helped researchers to obtain a deeper insight into the Alzheimer's disease.
The research by scientists at VIB and KU Leuven provided the fundamental knowledge about the regulation of stem cells in the nerve tissue of zebrafish embryos results in surprising insights into neurodegenerative disease processes in the human brain. It helped in identifying the molecules responsible for this process.
The zebrafish, a small fish measuring 3 to 5 cm in length, with dark stripes along the length of its body have several unusual characteristics that make them popular for scientific research. The genetic code of humans and zebrafish was more than 90 percent identical. In addition, the genetic material of these fish was easy to manipulate, meaning that they are often used as a model in the study of all sorts of diseases.
Evgenia Salta, scientist in the team of Bart De Strooper, used zebrafish as a model in molecular brain research and discovered a previously unknown regulatory process for the development of nerve cells.
MiRNA-132 appeared to play a role in maintaining the plasticity of the adult human brain. The adult brain still contains stem cells, but these are limited in number. The activity of miRNA-132 was reduced in diseases of the nervous system that involved the death of nerve cells, such as Alzheimer's dementia.
The concentration of miRNA-132 was also reduced in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, the zebrafish allowed themto mimic a condition that also occurs in Alzheimer's dementia.
This new knowledge about the molecular signaling pathway that underlies this process gives them an insight into the exact blocking mechanism.
(Posted on 20-08-2014)