Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mechanisms That Prevent Alzheimer's Disease: Enzymatic Activity Plays Key Role

Date:
February 25, 2009
Source:
Mainz, Universitaet
Summary:
Scientists have been gaining further insight in the functioning of endogenous mechanisms that protect against the development of Alzheimer's disease. It was found that the activity of the enzyme α-secretase is mainly responsible for the protective effect.

In a project involving the collaboration of several institutes, research scientists of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz have succeeded in gaining further insight in the functioning of endogenous mechanisms that protect against the development of Alzheimer's disease. It was found that the activity of the enzyme α-secretase is mainly responsible for the protective effect.

Related Articles


"In the past, we had already postulated that the enzyme α-secretase was involved in preventing the formation of the cerebral plaques characteristic of Alzheimer's disease and also enhanced cerebral functions, such as learning and memory capacity," explains Professor Falk Fahrenholz of the Institute of Biochemistry at Mainz University. His research group has been working in cooperation with the University Medicine's Clinic of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy and the Central Animal Laboratory Facility (ZVTE) to discover the causes of these beneficial effects of α-secretase. The specialist publication Journal of Alzheimer's Disease (JAD) presents the results of this project in its latest issue, to appear in February 2009.

The α-secretase is an endogenous enzyme that is present in the nerve cells of the brain, where it is responsible for the cleavage of a specific protein. The result is a soluble protein fragment that promotes the growth of nerve cells and thus prevents the development of cerebral deterioration. However, if the enzyme β-secretase is active, a chain reaction is initiated that subsequently results in the development of Alzheimer's disease and, in most cases, in the complete loss of memory capacity. "You could say that α-secretase is the good enzyme and that β-secretase is the bad enzyme," Fahrenholz comments. "We now want to find out how to activate this 'good' enzyme or increase its concentrations in the brain as a way of combating this disease."

With this in view, the collaborating partners have been investigating whether the positive effects of α-secretase are attributable to its enzymatic activity or whether the protective effect is due to other properties of the enzyme. Enzymes play an important role in the metabolism as they control, regulate, and catalyze numerous biochemical processes. "The α-secretase enzyme is a highly complex one, with many other functions. For example, it also relays signals from the intercellular space into cells and interacts with molecules on other cells."

Following investigations in a transgenic mouse model, Fahrenholz and his colleagues have now established that it is the enzymatic activity alone that guarantees the protective effects. If this activity is neutralized, the laboratory mice exhibit the symptoms that are characteristic of Alzheimer's disease: impaired learning ability, poor memory capacity, and the build-up of plaques. It is thus possible that the enzymatic activity of α-secretase could represent the starting point for the development of future treatments.

At the same time, the researchers were able to confirm with their experiments that it is not the plaque build-up itself that is responsible for the loss of memory capacity. The cytotoxic substances that accumulate in plaques only destroy neuron synapses when they are still in solution. Professor Fahrenholz concludes: "It is important to consider other aspects in addition to the plaques themselves, particularly their precursors, which are a real cause of the disease."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Mainz, Universitaet. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Mainz, Universitaet. "Mechanisms That Prevent Alzheimer's Disease: Enzymatic Activity Plays Key Role." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090216092837.htm>.
Mainz, Universitaet. (2009, February 25). Mechanisms That Prevent Alzheimer's Disease: Enzymatic Activity Plays Key Role. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090216092837.htm
Mainz, Universitaet. "Mechanisms That Prevent Alzheimer's Disease: Enzymatic Activity Plays Key Role." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090216092837.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) Fears of Ebola are keeping doctors and patients alike away from hospitals in the West African nation of Guinea. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) The family of a Dallas nurse infected with Ebola in the US says doctors can no longer detect the virus in her. Despite the mounting death toll in West Africa, there are survivors there too. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
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