Dementia study links gene with damage to brain connections

Dementia study links gene with damage to brain connections

 

Monday, 8 July, 2019

Prof Tara Spires-Jones (Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences) and colleagues have recently published a study linking a novel gene with damage to brain connections. The study showed that a protein called clusterin builds up in vital parts of neurons which connect cells, called synapses, and may damage these links and subsequently could contribute to dementia symptoms. The synapses also contained clumps of amyloid beta, the damaging protein that is found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's. People with a common risk gene, apolopoprotein E4, had more clusterin and amyloid beta clumps in their synapses than people with Alzheimer's without the risk gene, and those without dementia had even less of the damaging proteins in their synapses. 

The study, published in Brain Communications, sheds light on the causes of the disease and will help to accelerate the search for a treatment. Prof Spires-Jones, Programme Lead at the UK Dementia Research Institute at the University of Edinburgh, said: “We have identified another player in the host of proteins that damage synapses in Alzheimer’s disease. Synapses are essential for thinking and memory, and preventing damage to them is a promising target to help prevent or reverse dementia symptoms. This work gives us a new target to work towards in our goal to develop effective treatments.”