Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Untangling the mysteries of Alzheimer's

Date:
February 2, 2012
Source:
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Summary:
Researchers have found new evidence that confirms the significance of a protein that neuroscientists call tau to the development of Alzheimer's disease. While earlier studies have focused on tau's aggregation into twisted structures known as "neurofibrillary tangles," the new work emphasizes intermediary steps between single protein units and the much larger tangles – small assemblages of two, three, four or more proteins, which the investigators believe are the most toxic entities in Alzheimer's.

One of the most distinctive signs of the development of Alzheimer's disease is a change in the behavior of a protein that neuroscientists call tau. In normal brains, tau is present in individual units essential to neuron health. In the cells of Alzheimer's brains, by contrast, tau proteins aggregate into twisted structures known as "neurofibrillary tangles." These tangles are considered a hallmark of the disease, but their precise role in Alzheimer's pathology has long been a point of contention among researchers.

Now, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston researchers have found new evidence that confirms the significance of tau to Alzheimer's. Instead of focusing on tangles, however, their work highlights the intermediary steps between a single tau protein unit and a neurofibrillary tangle -- assemblages of two, three, four, or more tau proteins known as "oligomers," which they believe are the most toxic entities in Alzheimer's.

"What we discovered is that there are smaller structures that form before the neurofibrillary tangles, and they are much more toxic than the big structures," said Rakez Kayed, UTMB assistant professor and senior author of a paper on the work now online in the FASEB Journal. "And we established that they were toxic in real human brains, which is important to developing an effective therapy."

According to Kayed, a key antibody developed at UTMB called T22 enabled the team to produce a detailed portrait of tau oligomer behavior in human brain tissue. Specifically designed to bond only to tau oligomers (and not lone tau proteins or neurofibrillary tangles), the antibody made it possible for the researchers to use a variety of analytical tools to compare samples of Alzheimer's brain with samples of age-matched healthy brain.

"One thing that's remarkable about this research is that before we developed this antibody, people couldn't even see tau oligomers in the brain," Kayed said. "With T22, we were able to thoroughly characterize them, and also study them in human brain cells."

Among the researchers' most striking findings: in some of the Alzheimer's brains they examined, tau oligomer levels were as much as four times as high as those found in age-matched control brains.

Other experiments revealed specific biochemical behavior and structures taken on by oligomers, and demonstrated their presence outside neurons -- in particular, on the walls of blood vessels.

"We think this is going to make a big impact scientifically, because it opens up a lot of new areas to study," Kayed said. "It also relates to our main focus, developing a cure for Alzheimer's. And I find that very, very exciting."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. C. A. Lasagna-Reeves, D. L. Castillo-Carranza, U. Sengupta, J. Sarmiento, J. Troncoso, G. R. Jackson, R. Kayed. Identification of oligomers at early stages of tau aggregation in Alzheimer's disease. The FASEB Journal, 2012; DOI: 10.1096/fj.11-199851

Cite This Page:

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. "Untangling the mysteries of Alzheimer's." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120202151725.htm>.
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. (2012, February 2). Untangling the mysteries of Alzheimer's. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120202151725.htm
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. "Untangling the mysteries of Alzheimer's." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120202151725.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

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
Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) — A study by King's College London says there's a link between how well kids draw at age 4 and how intelligent they are later in life. 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:
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