New Possible Markers for Alzheimer’s Identified
Most researchers now agree that one cause of the Alzheimer’s is an accumulation of beta amyloid that results in the plaques we’ve written so much about in the past. There likely are other factors as well, as we’ve also discussed, but beta amyloid is clearly part of the story. We also have reason to believe that something happens to the garbage collection system of the brain that essentially lets the beta amyloid accumulate, and if we can somehow identify and correct this process early on, then obviously it would be of immense clinical benefit. Furthermore, we have reason to believe that lysosomes are involved in this garbage collection process. Fortunately there are some new data that may help with early identification and possible treatment within this system.
Katarina Kågedal and researchers recently showed that, “In victims of Alzheimer’s, something happens to the lysosomes so that they can’t manage to take care of the surplus of beta amyloid. They fill up with junk that normally is broken down into its component parts and recycled.” She led the study being published in Neuromolecular Medicine, where their hypothesis was that these changes in the brain’s lysosomal network could be reflected in the spinal fluid. They studied samples from 20 Alzheimer’s patients and an equal number of healthy control subjects and examined 35 proteins that are associated with the lysosomal network. What they found was that six of these proteins were at increased levels in those with Alzheimer’s, and all of these are new potential markers, and possible routes for intervention.
What’s most exciting about these data is that we are beginning to more fully understand how the garbage collection system in the brain works, and how it doesn’t, which can lead to numerous disorders, not the least of which is Alzheimer’s. There’s still more that we don’t know, but at least we are beginning to unravel this part of the mystery, and it looks like it could lead to earlier diagnosis and well as new treatments.
We’ll keep you posted.