Protein linked to high risk of Alzheimer's can be removed from brain without hindering learning

October 4, 2016, UT Southwestern Medical Center
brain
White matter fiber architecture of the brain. Credit: Human Connectome Project.

A protein linked to higher risk of Alzheimer's can be removed from the brains of mice without hindering memory and learning, according to a study that addresses whether potential therapeutics targeting this protein would have detrimental side effects.

The study from the Peter O'Donnell Jr. Brain Institute also showed, however, that the protein's absence in other parts of the body hinders brain function as rise. This result substantiates previous research that indicated cardiovascular health affects the brain.

Researchers focused on the removal of apolipoprotein E (ApoE), which in a certain form can support the buildup of toxic plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Studies elsewhere have sought to determine whether reducing ApoE could be an effective treatment in preventing the disease, but a lingering question has been whether the protein is necessary for healthy brain function.

The study found that mice can maintain their learning and memory when virtually all ApoE is removed from the brain but kept present in the liver to filter cholesterol. Mice that lacked ApoE in both the brain and liver experienced unhealthy and lost cognitive function.

More research is needed to determine what causes the cardiovascular issues to affect the brain, said Dr. Joachim Herz, the study's Principal Investigator and Professor of Molecular Genetics, Neuroscience, Neurology and Neurotherapeutics at the O'Donnell Brain Institute at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

But the findings, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, add support to the belief that reducing ApoE in the brain could eventually be a viable therapeutic option for treating Alzheimer's.

"This approach still holds potential," said Dr. Herz, holder of the Thomas O. and Cinda Hicks Family Distinguished Chair in Alzheimer's Disease Research and Director of the Center for Translational Neurodegeneration Research.

ApoE has several roles in the body, including transporting cholesterol and related molecules such as β-amyloid that form plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's patients if not properly filtered or removed.

The type of ApoE produced by the ApoE gene determines how effectively the amyloid is removed from the brain. ApoE2 is the most effective, ApoE3 is in the middle and ApoE4 is the most likely to allow for the buildup of amyloid plaques. People whose genes produce ApoE4 are at high risk of developing Alzheimer's.

Studies are ongoing at UT Southwestern and elsewhere to further understand the various effects that ApoE4 removal has on and body function.

Explore further: Scientists reveal why people with the ApoE4 gene are more susceptible to Alzheimer's disease

Related Stories

Scientists reveal why people with the ApoE4 gene are more susceptible to Alzheimer's disease

August 17, 2016
For decades, scientists have known that people with two copies of a gene called apolipoprotein E4 (ApoE4) are much more likely to have Alzheimer's disease at age 65 than the rest of the population. Now, researchers at the ...

Normal cognition in patient without apolipoprotein E, risk factor for Alzheimer's

August 11, 2014
A 40-year-old California man exhibits normal cognitive function although he has no apolipoprotein E (apoE), which is believed to be important for brain function but a mutation of which is also a known risk factor for Alzheimer ...

An anti-apoE4 specific monoclonal antibody counteracts the pathological effects of apoE4 in vivo

June 30, 2016
The pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD), viz defective Aβ and tau proteins, have been the center of AD-directed therapeutic studies. Although this approach still remains valid, it has not yet produced clinically ...

Malfunctioning protein a cause of Alzheimer's plaques

June 30, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- In a new study published in Science Translational Medicine, scientists from the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis reveal their discovery of a protein made by an Alzheimer’s gene ...

Possible biological function for the Alzheimer protein amyloid-beta

November 4, 2015
A new study from Karolinska Institutet shows that amyloid-β-peptides, which are thought to be toxic and a suspected cause of Alzheimer's disease, actually have a biological function. The discovery, which is published in ...

Recommended for you

Rate of dementia on the decline—but beware of growing numbers

April 17, 2018
The good news? The rate of older Americans with dementia is on the decline.

Research offers potential insight into Alzheimer's disease

April 16, 2018
Slightly elevated beta-amyloid levels in the brain are associated with increased activity in certain brain regions, according to a new study from the Center for Vital Longevity (CVL) at The University of Texas at Dallas.

Americans with a college education live longer without dementia and Alzheimer's

April 16, 2018
Education gives people an edge in their later years, helping them to keep dementia at bay and their memories intact, a new USC-led study has found.

Evidence mounts for Alzheimer's, suicide risks among youth in polluted cities

April 13, 2018
A University of Montana researcher and her collaborators have published a new study that reveals increased risks for Alzheimer's and suicide among children and young adults living in polluted megacities.

Improving brain function in Alzheimer's disease mouse model

April 11, 2018
Using two complementary approaches to reduce the deposits of amyloid-beta in the brain rather than either approach alone improved spatial navigation and memory in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. These findings suggest ...

Sleepless nights show ties to Alzheimer's risk

April 10, 2018
Even one night of lost sleep may cause the brain to fill with protein chunks that have long been linked to the development of Alzheimer's disease, a new study warns.

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.