Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Alzheimer's: Destructive amyloid-beta protein may also be essential for normal brain function

Date:
November 25, 2009
Source:
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Summary:
Scientists have found that the amyloid-beta protein, currently the target of Alzheimer's drug research, is essential for normal information transfer through nerve cell networks in the brain. "If this protein is removed from the brain," says one of the researchers, "it may cause an impairment of neuronal function, as well as a further and faster accumulation of amyloid-beta in Alzheimer's."

A model of the human brain. New research suggests that amyloid-beta peptide -- the buildup of which in the brain is believed to cause Alzheimer's disease -- is also necessary to maintain proper brain functioning.
Credit: iStockphoto/Mark Evans

Alzheimer's disease is thought to be caused by the build-up of a brain peptide called amyloid-beta. That's why eliminating the protein has been the focus of almost all drug research pursuing a cure for the devastating neurodegenerative condition.

But that may be counterproductive, says Dr. Inna Slutsky of Tel Aviv University's Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Sackler Faculty of Medicine. Her recent research demonstrates that amyloid-beta is also necessary to maintain proper brain functioning.

These findings may shake the foundations of Alzheimer's research.

In a new study published this month in Nature Neuroscience, Dr. Slutsky finds that amyloid-beta is essential for normal day-to-day information transfer through nerve cell networks in the brain. "If this protein is removed from the brain," says Dr. Slutsky, "as some drugs in development attempt to do, it may cause an impairment of neuronal function, as well as a further and faster accumulation of amyloid-beta in Alzheimer's."

A reset button for drug researchers

Without amyloid-beta, a normal product of cellular metabolism, one's ability to learn and remember could be profoundly damaged, so drugs currently in development to eliminate amyloid-beta could be rendered obsolete. With Dr. Slutsky's research, a leap in understanding the cause and development of Alzheimer's disease, however, new, more effective drug therapies could be developed.

By studying synapses in brain slices of healthy mice and in neuronal networks growing in vitro, Dr. Slutsky and her team determined that there is an optimal amount of amyloid-beta needed to keep the neurons working well. Her students Efrat Abramov and Iftach Dolev found that if this precise balance is even slightly disturbed, the effectiveness of information transfer between neurons is greatly impaired.

"Synapses where neurons meet work as filters of information," says Dr. Slutsky. "What is really exciting for us is the fact that amyloid-beta peptide, believed to be toxic, regulates the type of information that neurons transfer."

A new way to prevent Alzheimer's?

The study of Dr. Slutsky's team suggests that the amyloid-beta protein belongs to endogenous molecules regulating normal synaptic transmission in the hippocampus, a brain region involved in learning and memory function. "There is a long list of neuromodulators that help synapses optimize information transfer," she says. "Intriguingly, amyloid-beta seems to be able to modulate this filter and shape its properties."

The new study is discouraging news for those Alzheimer drugs that attempt to block or remove the amyloid-beta aggregation process currently in clinical trials, Dr. Slutsky believes. "Our data shows that after the release of amyloid-beta, synaptic activity in the neurons is increased through a positive feedback loop. Disrupting this positive feedback loop, I believe, is the key for prevention of the earliest signs of Alzheimer's."

Dr. Slutsky completed her post-doctoral work at MIT four years ago, specializing in cellular mechanisms that maintain memory function. She received an international Young Investigator Award in Alzheimer's disease from the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation of American Federation for Aging Research in 2008.

In addition to Dr. Slutsky, Dolev and Abramov, authors of the paper also include Hilla Fogel and Eyal Ruff of TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine, and Giuseppe Ciccotosto of the University of Melbourne in Australia.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Friends of Tel Aviv University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Efrat Abramov, Iftach Dolev, Hilla Fogel, Giuseppe D Ciccotosto, Eyal Ruff & Inna Slutsky. Amyloid-β as a positive endogenous regulator of release probability at hippocampal synapses. Nature Neuroscience, 2009; DOI: 10.1038/nn.2433

Cite This Page:

American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "Alzheimer's: Destructive amyloid-beta protein may also be essential for normal brain function." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091123114813.htm>.
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. (2009, November 25). Alzheimer's: Destructive amyloid-beta protein may also be essential for normal brain function. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091123114813.htm
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "Alzheimer's: Destructive amyloid-beta protein may also be essential for normal brain function." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091123114813.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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