Like a great orchestra, your brain relies on the perfect coordination of many elements to function properly. And if one of those elements is out of sync, it affects the entire ensemble. In Alzheimer’s disease, for instance, damage to specific neurons can alter brainwave rhythms and cause a loss of cognitive functions.
One type of neuron, called inhibitory interneuron, is particularly important for managing brain rhythms. It’s also the research focus of a laboratory led by Jorge Palop, PhD, assistant investigator at the Gladstone Institutes. In a study published in Neuron, Palop and his collaborators uncovered the therapeutic benefits of genetically improving these interneurons and transplanting them into the brain of a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.
Interneurons control complex networks between neurons, allowing them to send signals to one another in a harmonized way. You can think of inhibitory interneurons as orchestra conductors. They create rhythms in the brain to instruct the players—excitatory neurons—when to play and when to stop. An imbalance between these two types of neurons creates disharmony and is seen in multiple neurological and psychiatric disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, schizophrenia, and autism.
A Brain without a Conductor
Palop’s previous studies showed that, in mouse models of Alzheimer’s, the inhibitory interneurons do not work properly. So, the rhythms that organize the excitatory cells are disturbed and fail to function harmoniously, causing an imbalance in brain networks. This, in turn, affects memory formation and can lead to epileptic activity, which is often observed in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
His team found a way to reengineer inhibitory interneurons to improve their function. They showed that these enhanced interneurons, when transplanted into the abnormal brain of Alzheimer mice, can properly control the activity of excitatory cells and restore brain rhythms.
“We took advantage of the fact that transplanted interneurons can integrate remarkably well into new brain tissues, and that each interneuron can control thousands of excitatory neurons,” said Palop, who is also an assistant professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco. “These properties make interneurons a promising therapeutic target for cognitive disorders associated with brain rhythm abnormalities and epileptic activity.”
First, the scientists had to overcome a significant challenge. When they transplanted regular interneurons, they saw no beneficial effects, presumably because Alzheimer’s disease creates a toxic environment in the brain.
The researchers then genetically boosted the activity of inhibitory interneurons by adding a protein called Nav1.1. They discovered that the interneurons with enhanced function were able to overcome the toxic disease environment and restore brain function.
“These optimized neurons are like master conductors,” said Palop. “Even with a declining orchestra, they can restore the rhythms and harmony needed for cognitive functions.”
Conductors Engineered for Alzheimer’s Disease
The findings could eventually lead to the development of new treatment options for patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
“Besides the applications this cell engineering and transplantation approach may find in regenerative medicine, our findings support the broader concept that enhancing the function of interneurons can counteract key aspects of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Lennart Mucke, MD, director of the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease.
In addition to examining if the cell therapy could be translated from mice to humans, Palop and his team are working to identify potential drugs as an alternative way to enhance the function of inhibitory interneurons.
The Latest on: Alzheimer’s Disease
via Google News
The Latest on: Alzheimer’s Disease
Pollution possible risk factor for Alzheimer's, suicide
on April 18, 2018 at 1:24 pm
This led to the researchers identifying two abnormal proteins in babies that could lead to early stage Alzheimer’s disease. The two proteins that they found are known as hyperphosphorylated tau and beta amyloid, both found in the human brain. The ... […]
This Man's Genes Have Left Him Battling Early Onset Alzheimer's at 45
on April 18, 2018 at 12:49 pm
... in Oliver's family have been impacted by the form of dementia due to genetics People with familial early onset Alzheimer's disease have a 50 percent chance of passing the genetic mutation onto their children Matt Oliver lost his mother, brother ... […]
Alzheimer’s Disease Starts in Childhood, With Symptoms Found in Babies Less Than a Year Old, Study Shows
on April 18, 2018 at 12:04 pm
A new study found shocking evidence to suggest that Alzheimer's disease begins in childhood, with babies younger than a year old displaying signs of the disease. The research emphasized that earlier intervention is necessary to prevent the disease and ... […]
The Menopause-Alzheimer’s Connection
on April 18, 2018 at 9:19 am
In the next three minutes, three people will develop Alzheimer’s disease. Two of them will be women. There are 5.7 million Alzheimer’s patients in the United States. By 2050, there will probably be as many as 14 million, and twice as many women as men ... […]
Could clocking in enough sleep decrease your Alzheimer’s risk?
on April 18, 2018 at 9:10 am
And according to new research, it also plays a role in lowering your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. Basically, sleep is magic. The small study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that losing just one night of ... […]
Researchers demonstrate the presence of beta-amyloid dimers in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's
on April 18, 2018 at 3:29 am
"Because we can't work with the brains of living subjects, we now need to determine whether these dimers are present in the cerebrospinal fluid of individuals with Alzheimer´s disease and then perform clinical trials to associate their presence with the ... […]
Army vet battles early onset Alzheimer’s aged just 45 – after losing mum and both siblings to disease
on April 18, 2018 at 1:43 am
AN ARMY veteran is battling early onset Alzheimer’s aged just 45 – after losing his mum and both siblings to the disease. Matt Oliver was just 41 when he was diagnosed with the crippling illness after it wiped out three members of his close family. […]
3 Easy Ways You Can Make a Difference in the Fight Against Alzheimer’s Disease
on April 17, 2018 at 5:14 pm
You don’t have to be a scientist, politician, or millionaire to make a big difference in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Talk to the women who are battling stigma, lobbying Congress to get more critical funding for research, and helping to make ... […]
Why ‘Biomarkers’ Will Be Used to Detect Some Alzheimer’s Cases
on April 17, 2018 at 4:26 pm
Researchers get a new definition for the most common cause of dementia. A new definition of Alzheimer’s disease could radically change how Alzheimer’s is diagnosed and treated. Guidelines published in the April issue of Alzheimer’s & Dementia reframe ... […]
via Bing News