Scientists Have Discovered A New Mechanism For The Development Of Alzheimer's Disease

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Scientists Have Discovered A New Mechanism For The Development Of Alzheimer's Disease
Scientists Have Discovered A New Mechanism For The Development Of Alzheimer's Disease
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Scientists have discovered a new mechanism for the development of Alzheimer's disease

A gene associated with this pathology can cause cognitive impairment - before pathological proteins appear in the brain.

Scientists have discovered a new mechanism for the development of Alzheimer's disease
Scientists have discovered a new mechanism for the development of Alzheimer's disease

Photo: CC0 Public Domain

Scientists have found that the main gene responsible for the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease may play a previously unknown role in the development of the disease. It turned out that in carriers of this gene, cognitive abilities are reduced, even if there are no deposits of proteins in the brain, which are believed to be the cause of the disease. A study that showed this was published in the journal Nature.

A certain variant of the APOE4 gene is associated with damage to the blood-brain barrier (this is a structure that protects the brain from the penetration of harmful substances and pathogens). This damage occurs primarily at the level of the small vessels of the brain. It used to be thought to cause Alzheimer's by accelerating the deposition of amyloid-beta and tau protein (a protein believed to be one of the causes of the disease) in the brain.

A new scientific work has shown that memory and other cognitive functions in carriers of the pathological variant of the APOE4 gene are affected even before the deposition of pathological proteins in the brain begins.

The new study involved 435 people who underwent brain scans, biochemical tests (detecting biomarkers) and memory tests. Some patients had normal cognitive abilities, while others had mild cognitive impairment, which is common in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.

In carriers of the pathological APOE4 gene in both groups, scientists found an increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier in certain areas. This permeability was most pronounced in participants who already developed cognitive impairments.

That damage to the blood-brain barrier can predict cognitive impairment independent of amyloid-beta deposition could have a major impact on understanding Alzheimer's disease. If these findings are confirmed by subsequent research, it will be possible to develop new tools for the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of this disease.

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