New discovery for how the brain 'tangles' in Alzheimer's Disease

February 01, 2021

University of Queensland researchers have discovered a new 'seeding' process in brain cells that could be a cause of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

UQ's Queensland Brain Institute dementia researcher Professor Jürgen Götz said the study revealed that tangled neurons, a hallmark sign of dementia, form in part by a cellular process that has gone astray and allows a toxic protein, tau, to leak into healthy brain cells.

"These leaks create a damaging seeding process that causes tau tangles and ultimately lead to memory loss and other impairments," Professor Götz said.

Professor Götz said until now researchers did not understand how tau seeds were able to escape after their uptake into healthy cells.

"In people with Alzheimer's disease, it seems the tiny sacs transporting messages within or outside the cells, called exosomes, trigger a reaction which punches holes in the wall of their own cell membrane and allows the toxic seeds to escape," he said.

"As more tau builds up in the brain, it eventually forms tangles, and together with abnormally configured proteins known as amyloid plaque, they form the key features of these neurological diseases."

Queensland Brain Institute researcher Dr Juan Polanco said the findings would help scientists piece together how non-inherited forms of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias occur.

"The more we understand the underlying mechanisms, the easier it will be to interfere with the process and to slow down or even halt the disease," Dr Polanco said.

"Along with Alzheimer's, this cellular process might also play a leading role in other cognitive diseases, from frontal lobe dementia to rare neurological disorders with toxic tau.

"Even in cancer research, there is emerging evidence showing these exosomes can load unique messages that reflect the condition of tumours and enables them to replicate and spread cancer more quickly through the body.

"Improving our understanding of how Alzheimer's and other diseases spread through exosomes will allow us to create new ways to treat and intervene in these cellular processes in the future."

Professor Götz directs research at QBI's Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research. A team in his research group, led by Dr Polanco, is looking at the role of exosomes and cell dysfunction as a risk factor in neurodegenerative diseases.
-end-
This research is published in Acta Neuropathologica (DOI:10.1007/s00401-020-02254-3, PMID: 33417012).

It has also been featured in the US-based AlzForum website.

University of Queensland

Related Dementia Articles from Brightsurf:

The danger of Z-drugs for dementia patients
Strong sleeping pills known as 'Z-drugs' are linked with an increased risk of falls, fractures and stroke among people with dementia, according to new research.

The long road to dementia
Alzheimer's disease develops over decades. It begins with a fatal chain reaction in which masses of misfolded beta-amyloid proteins are produced that in the end literally flood the brain.

Why people with dementia go missing
People with dementia are more likely to go missing in areas where road networks are dense, complicated and disordered - according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

PTSD may double risk of dementia
People who have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are up to twice as likely to develop dementia later in life, according to a new study by UCL researchers, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Dementia education
School-based dementia education could deliver much needed empathy and understanding for older generations as new research from the University of South Australia shows it can significantly improve dementia knowledge and awareness among younger generations.

Building dementia friendly churches
A project to help church communities become more 'dementia friendly' has had a significant impact across the country.

A "feeling" for dementia?
A research team led by the DZNE concludes that personal perception can be an important indicator for the early detection of Alzheimer's disease.

New biomarker for dementia diagnosis
Medical researchers in the UK and Australia have identified a new marker which could support the search for novel preventative and therapeutic treatments for dementia.

Digital solutions for dementia care
Telehealth delivery of dementia care in the home can be as effective as face-to-face home visit services if carers and recipients take advantage of the technologies available, Australian researchers say.

Despite a marked reduction in the prevalence of dementia, the number of people with dementia is set to double by 2050 according to new Alzheimer Europe report
Today, at a European Parliament lunch debate, Alzheimer Europe launched a new report presenting the findings of its collaborative analysis of recent prevalence studies and setting out updated prevalence rates for dementia in Europe.

Read More: Dementia News and Dementia Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.