Researchers from the Neurobiology of Dementia group at the Hospital Sant Pau Research Institute (IIB Sant Pau) in Barcelona have discovered how toxic tau proteins spread through synapses in the brain. Alzheimer’s disease,
The discovery, published in the journal Neuron, reinforces the hypothesis that preventing a toxic form of tau protein from spreading across synapses could be a promising strategy for treating Alzheimer’s disease in the future.
The research, in which the Institute of Advanced Chemistry of Catalonia (IQAC-CSIC) and the University of Edinburgh have also participated, has been carried out within the framework of the European project COEN, funded and coordinated by CIBERNED. alberto leonResearcher of the Neurobiology of Dementia Group at IIB Saint Pau.
Lleó recalled that the accumulation of tau protein in neurons in the form of neurofibrillary tangles is one of the most characteristic aspects of Alzheimer’s disease and that deposits of this protein spread through brain circuits, disrupting communication between brain cells, causing Change happens brain function.
According to the researcher, this is the first time that these abnormal forms have been observed to spread through the brain via synapses in the human brain, which are connection points between brain cells that allows chemical and electrical messages to flow, a process vital to normal brain function.
Synapses are lost in Alzheimer’s disease, and the loss of these connections is an important predictor of loss of memory and other intellectual functions in these patients.
researchers to do this work Examined over a million synapses from 42 people Using novel techniques with high-powered, high-resolution microscopes that allow the flow of proteins within the synapse to be visualized.
The researchers were able to see that small deposits of tau protein, known as oligomers, were on both sides of synapses in people who had died of Alzheimer’s, both in neurons that send signals and those that receive them. indicating that synapses have the ability to transmit toxic tau proteins from one part of the brain to another.
According to IQAC-CSIC researcher, sylvia puzal“This study demonstrates how super-resolution microscopy, capable of visualizing structures at the nanoscale, has great potential in the study of molecular mechanisms involved in diseases.”
Following the results of this study, Lelio said that if in the future “it is possible to block the passage from one neuron to another of the most pathological forms of tau protein, which are oligomers, then we can certainly stop the progression.” The disease is Alzheimer’s, because we know that disease progression is accompanied by the spread of proteins throughout the brain.”
The researchers are congratulating themselves because it was known for more than 30 years that tangles spread through the brain during Alzheimer’s disease, until now how they did so was a mystery.