New discovery in Alzheimer's protein puzzle

May 14, 2012 By Raquel Maurier, University of Alberta

(Medical Xpress) -- A medical research team at the University of Alberta has made two related discoveries that could shed more light on Alzheimer’s disease.

Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry researcher Elena Posse de Chaves and her team recently published their findings in The Journal of Neuroscience.

It has been known for decades that plays an important role in Alzheimer’s . Posse de Chaves’ team discovered that, in brain cells that accumulate toxic levels of the normally occurring beta amyloid , “there is a significant inhibition” in the process that creates brain cholesterol.

Brain cholesterol is vital for normal brain function because it helps protect neurons and helps brain cells fire properly.

What the discovery means is that the relationship between this naturally occurring protein and cholesterol is not just one-way. These findings have been suggested by other research teams as well.

“Our work supports the idea that there is a two-way relationship,” said Posse de Chaves, a researcher in the Department of Pharmacology.

Her team’s work is also important in another area. Those who have Alzheimer’s disease have low levels of a protein known as seladin-1. Some researchers believe this could be an indicator for the disease. This protein is part of the process that leads to the creation of cholesterol. So if cholesterol production is inhibited in Alzheimer’s disease, as demonstrated by the U of A findings, this could explain why levels of the seladin-1 protein are so low.  

“Our findings could explain why that one protein is decreased in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Posse de Chaves. “This is one piece of the puzzle and every discovery helps.”

According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, more than 500,000 people in Canada and more than 35 million worldwide have dementia, a group of disorders that includes Alzheimer’s disease.  

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Alzheimer Society of Canada funded the research.

Explore further: Study reveals link between high cholesterol and Alzheimer's disease

Related Stories

Study reveals link between high cholesterol and Alzheimer's disease

September 12, 2011
People with high cholesterol may have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published in the September 13, 2011, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Falls may be early sign of Alzheimer's

July 18, 2011
Falls and balance problems may be early indicators of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis report July 17, 2011, at the Alzheimer’s Association International ...

Protein that directs cholesterol traffic identified

February 20, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- A protein that directs traffic within human cells has been identified as playing a key role in the accumulation of so-called “bad” cholesterol, according to a new study.

Recommended for you

Alzheimer's disease: Neuronal loss very limited

January 17, 2018
Frequently encountered in the elderly, Alzheimer's is considered a neurodegenerative disease, which means that it is accompanied by a significant, progressive loss of neurons and their nerve endings, or synapses. A joint ...

Anxiety: An early indicator of Alzheimer's disease?

January 12, 2018
A new study suggests an association between elevated amyloid beta levels and the worsening of anxiety symptoms. The findings support the hypothesis that neuropsychiatric symptoms could represent the early manifestation of ...

One of the most promising drugs for Alzheimer's disease fails in clinical trials

January 11, 2018
To the roughly 400 clinical trials that have tested some experimental treatment for Alzheimer's disease and come up short, we can now add three more.

Different disease types associated with distinct amyloid-beta prion strains found in Alzheimer's patients

January 9, 2018
An international team of researchers has found different disease type associations with distinct amyloid-beta prion strains in the brains of dead Alzheimer's patients. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National ...

Advances in brain imaging settle debate over spread of key protein in Alzheimer's

January 5, 2018
Recent advances in brain imaging have enabled scientists to show for the first time that a key protein which causes nerve cell death spreads throughout the brain in Alzheimer's disease - and hence that blocking its spread ...

Molecular mechanism behind HIV-associated dementia revealed

January 5, 2018
For the first time, scientists have identified and inhibited a molecular process that can lead to neurodegeneration in patients with HIV, according to a Northwestern Medicine study published in Nature Communications.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.