Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Environmental Health Institute Scientists Begin To Unravel Cause Of Blocked Memory In Alzheimer's

Date:
January 3, 2001
Source:
NIH/National Institute Of Environmental Health Sciences
Summary:
Researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences have found that a protein found in patients with Alzheimer's disease can disrupt brain signals and therefore may contribute to the memory losses of Alzheimer's disease.

January 2, 2001 -- Researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences have found that a protein found in patients with Alzheimer's disease can disrupt brain signals and therefore may contribute to the memory losses of Alzheimer's disease, the scientists reported today in the Journal of Neuroscience, 2001, Vol. 21, RC 120, pp. 1-5.

Related Articles


According to the report, the characteristic plaques seen by scientists and physicians in the brains of Alzheimer's patients may not be the result of the disease but a cause. (At autopsy, these characteristic plaques -- first noted in 1906 -- are used to confirm Alzheimer's.)

The NIEHS scientists said they had demonstrated in rat brain that the major protein of these plaques binds to a receptor in the brain, thus blocking the signals, or currents, that are thought to be involved in learning and memory. The protein is called Beta-amyloid peptide and is found in the brains and plaques of humans, as well as animals.

Many researchers have speculated that the protein had such a memory-blocking role but, according to the authors, this work for the first time establishes this functional link between the plaques seen at autopsy and the failure in brain functioning.

The senior NIEHS scientist on the study, Jerrel L. Yakel, Ph.D., said that better drug therapies could result from finding chemicals that prevent the chemical binding and thus keep the brain signals flowing. "Knowing how the disease process works," Dr. Yakel said, "makes it more likely that medical science can find ways to slow, halt or even reverse the process."

Dr. Yakel, Diana L. Pettitt, Ph.D., and Zuoyi Shao, Ph.D., showed that the Beta-amyloid peptide blocks the function of a key signaling receptor, the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, in the hippocampus -- the seat of memory, motivation and emotion in the brain. For the text of the scientific report, see the full Yakel/Pettit/Shao report at www.jneurosci.org/rapidcomm.shtml. Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia -- a medical condition that disrupts the way the brain works -- in older people. It is characterized by confusion, profound forgetfulness and, often, anger. Seldom diagnosed a few decades ago, the disease appears to be increasing as the U.S. population ages and currently affects an estimated four million Americans.

In rare cases, the disease begins to develop before age 50 but most cases develop after 65. Alzheimer's Disease, or AD, is named for the German physician Alois Alzheimer. In 1906, he noticed abnormal clumps (now called senile or neuritic plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of a then-unusual mental illness. These plaques and tangles in the brain are now considered to be hallmarks of AD.

Alzheimer's may begin as mild forgetfulness about recent events, activities, and the names of people and things. Simple math may become hard.

As the disease progresses, people may forget how to do such tasks as combing their hair or brushing their teeth. They may no longer think clearly: Speaking, understanding, reading and writing become difficult. Patients may become anxious or aggressive as the disease continues to progress, and they often wander from home. AD patients eventually need total care.

Because such problems may result from other conditions as well, doctors can only make a probable diagnosis of Alzheimer's - though in specialized centers this is correct 80 to 90 percent of the time. Since it is risky to remove brain tissue from a live person, doctors cannot confirm AD with total accuracy unless they do an autopsy after death to determine if there are plaques and tangles in the brain.

Several drugs have been approved for temporarily relieving some symptoms of Alzheimer's but there is no cure or drug that can arrest the disease.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute Of Environmental Health Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NIH/National Institute Of Environmental Health Sciences. "Environmental Health Institute Scientists Begin To Unravel Cause Of Blocked Memory In Alzheimer's." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 January 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010103073555.htm>.
NIH/National Institute Of Environmental Health Sciences. (2001, January 3). Environmental Health Institute Scientists Begin To Unravel Cause Of Blocked Memory In Alzheimer's. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010103073555.htm
NIH/National Institute Of Environmental Health Sciences. "Environmental Health Institute Scientists Begin To Unravel Cause Of Blocked Memory In Alzheimer's." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010103073555.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Need another reason to eat yogurt every day? Researchers now say it could reduce a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Madagascar Working to Contain Plague Outbreak

Madagascar Working to Contain Plague Outbreak

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) — Madagascar said Monday it is trying to contain an outbreak of plague -- similar to the Black Death that swept Medieval Europe -- that has killed 40 people and is spreading to the capital Antananarivo. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins