Like a supply truck crossing the field, poorly folded proteins that damage Alzheimer’s disease neurons travel the “roads” of the brain, sometimes stopping and sometimes reorienting to avoid blockages, reports a study published in Scientific advances by researchers from the Van Andel Institute and the University of Pennsylvania.
The findings shed light on how tau proteins, which form agglomerated clusters, spoil brain Alzheimer’s cells, move through the brain. The study also provides new insights into why some areas of the brain are more vulnerable to damage than other areas.
“While the interconnected structure of the brain is essential to its function, these poorly folded proteins command this structure to travel through the brain and cause progressive degeneration, “said Michael X. Henderson, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Van Andel Institute and corresponding author of the study.” By understanding how these proteins travel through the brain and what causes certain neurons to be at risk for damage, we can develop new therapies that can be targeted at the right place at the right time to have maximum impact on disease progression. ”
Using models of Alzheimer’s disease, the team mapped out a poorly folded map tau proteins as they advanced through the brain. They discovered that Tau’s pathology changed region in the region along the brain’s neural networks, which are similar to biological highways but did not travel to all connected regions.
To find out why some areas of the brain seemed to resist the spread of proteins, he turned to the team patterns of gene expression.
They identified some genes that were more expressed in regions that had more tau pathology than expected only for protein propagation. By understanding the genetic factors that control protein accumulation in the brain, the team hopes to identify ways to interfere with the movement of poorly folded proteins and slow or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s and similar neurodegenerative diseases.
“We used these network models to test our hypothesis that tau extends back and forth along connections between brain regions,” said Eli Cornblath, Ph.D., MD / Ph.D. student at the University of Pennsylvania and first author of the study. “After using our models to explain this two-way propagation process, we found several genes that could help inform new molecular targets to eliminate or prevent them. protein training aggregates “.
Eli J. Cornblath et al, Computational modeling of the spread of tau pathology reveals patterns of regional vulnerability and the impact of a genetic risk factor, Scientific advances (2021). DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.abg6677
Van Andel Research Institute
Citation: Brain “roadmaps” reveal regions vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease (2021, June 10) Retrieved June 11, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-06-roadmaps- brain-reveal-regions-vulnerable.html
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