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
- So THAT'S The Difference Between Alzheimer's And Dementia on September 19, 2018 at 8:22 am
However, just because someone starts having slip-ups doesn’t automatically mean they’re showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease. It could, of course, be nothing. Or cognitive confusion or decline could b... […]
- New method enables accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease on September 19, 2018 at 7:05 am
Tau PET imaging shows substantial levels of tau pathology in temporal and parietal regions in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Credit: Oskar Hansson Diagnosing Alzheimer's disease can be ... […]
- Machine learning IDs markers to help predict Alzheimer's on September 19, 2018 at 6:34 am
Neurologists use structural and diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to identify changes in brain tissue (both gray and white matter) that are characteristic of Alzheimer's disease and other ... […]
- New tau-PET method shows superior accuracy in diagnosing Alzheimer's disease on September 19, 2018 at 4:56 am
Diagnosing Alzheimer's disease can be difficult, as several other conditions can cause similar symptoms. Now a new brain imaging method can show the spread of specific tau protein depositions, which a... […]
- Local Business Owners and Doctors to Participate in Walk to Fight Alzheimer’s 2018 on September 19, 2018 at 4:24 am
The impact of Alzheimer’s disease on our state and within our community is not trivial. According to research done by Alzheimer’s New Jersey, about 180,000 people are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and ov... […]
- Stand up to end Alzheimer’s disease on September 18, 2018 at 10:11 pm
Editor: It is time we change our thinking on Alzheimer’s disease. Too often Alzheimer’s is treated as an aging issue, ignoring the public health consequences of this disease. After losing my grandfath... […]
- Tumor of brain lining doesn't increase Alzheimer's risk on September 18, 2018 at 10:00 pm
I had an atypical meningioma removed, followed up with gamma knife. My question is whether I will be at a greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease because of these brain tumors. — J ... […]
- September puts Alzheimer's awareness in spotlight on September 18, 2018 at 7:28 pm
The specter of Alzheimer’s disease is a fearsome one. It’s a form of dementia that erases a person from their own life while incapacitating them. The disease is frightening — and costly, Alzheimer’s A... […]
- Tau PET Tracer Called Accurate for Alzheimer's Diagnosis on September 18, 2018 at 4:22 pm
Positron emission tomography (PET) quantification of tau protein aggregates in the brain with an 18 F-labeled tracer called flortaucipir discriminated Alzheimer's disease from other neurodegenerative ... […]
via Bing News