Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Alzheimer's spread through the brain mapped: Infects from neuron to neuron

Date:
June 26, 2012
Source:
Linköping University
Summary:
The inexorable spread of Alzheimer's disease through the brain leaves dead neurons and forgotten thoughts in its wake. Researchers have now shown how toxic proteins are transferred from neuron to neuron.

Two nerve cells, each about 10 micrometers large, are visible as shadows in this picture. From the beginning only the right one (yellow arrow) contained the toxic, red stained, oligomeric beta-amyloid. When these sick cells make contacts with the healthy, green labeled cells (black arrow), toxic beta-amyloid will spread through the neuronal projections (white arrow). Subsequently, also the green cell will become sick.
Credit: Martin Hallbeck

The inexorable spread of Alzheimer's disease through the brain leaves dead neurons and forgotten thoughts in its wake. Researchers at Linköping University in Sweden are the first to show how toxic proteins are transferred from neuron to neuron.

Through experiments on stained neurons, the research team -- under the leadership of Martin Hallbeck, associate professor of Pathology -- has been able to depict the process of neurons being invaded by diseased proteins that are then passed on to nearby cells.

"The spread of Alzheimer's, which can be studied in the brains of diseased patients, always follows the same pattern. But until now how and why this happens has not been understood," says Hallbeck, who along with his research group has now published their results in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The illness starts in the entorhinal cortex -- a part of the cerebral cortex, and then spreads to the hippocampus. Both of these areas are important for memory. Gradually, pathological changes take place in more and more areas of the brain, while the patient becomes even sicker.

Two proteins have been identified in connection with Alzheimer's: beta amyloid and tau. Normally tau is found in the axons -- the outgrowths that connect between neurons -- where it has a stabilising function, while beta amyloid seems to have a role in the synapses where the neurons transfer signal substances to each other. But in Alzheimer's patients, something happens with these proteins; autopsies reveal abnormal accumulations of both.

Why they become abnormal is still unknown, but what is known is that it's not the large accumulations, or plaques, that damage the neurons. Instead, smaller groups of beta amyloid -- called oligomeres -- seem to be the toxic form that gradually destroy the neurons and shrink the brain.

"We wanted to investigate whether these oligomeres can spread from neuron to neuron, something many researchers tried earlier but didn't succeed," Hallbeck says.

The study was inaugurated with an experiment on neuron cultures, where researchers injected oligomeres stained with a phosphorescent red substance called TMR using a very thin needle. The next day the neighbouring, connected neurons were also red, which showed that the oligomeres had spread.

To test whether a sick neuron can "infect" others, they conducted a round of experiments with mature human neurons stained green and mixed with others that were red after having taken up stained oligomeres. After a day, approximately half of the green cells had been in contact with a few of the red ones. After two more days, the axons had lost their shape and organelles in the cell nucleus had started to leak.

"Gradually more and more of the green cells became sick. Those that hadn't taken up the oligomeres, on the other hand, weren't affected," Hallbeck says.

The study is a breakthrough in understanding Alzheimer's and its progress. If a way of stopping the transfer can be found, it could lead to a more effective inhibitor against the disease.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Sangeeta Nath, Lotta Agholme, Firoz Kurudenkandy, Björn Granseth, Jan Marcusson and Martin Hallbeck. Spreading of neurodegenerative pathology via neuron-to-neuron transmission of beta-amyloid. Journal of Neuroscience, June 27, 2012

Cite This Page:

Linköping University. "Alzheimer's spread through the brain mapped: Infects from neuron to neuron." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120626172728.htm>.
Linköping University. (2012, June 26). Alzheimer's spread through the brain mapped: Infects from neuron to neuron. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120626172728.htm
Linköping University. "Alzheimer's spread through the brain mapped: Infects from neuron to neuron." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120626172728.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) — Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) — Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) — At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) — The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. 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