Brussels & Leuven, Belgium As the most common form of dementia in the Western world, Alzheimer's disease carries enormous implications for our ageing society. It is generally accepted that the disease is caused by Alzheimer peptide (A -peptide) protofibrils. Until now, the conditions under which this type of protofibril is formed and leads to the disease remained unknown. VIB researchers have now discovered that certain lipids, present also in our brains, promote the formation of this protofibril. This discovery is of major importance because it opens up new avenues of research into finding medicines against Alzheimer's disease. It also explains earlier indications of a link between lipids and Alzheimer's disease.
Misfolded proteins: cause of various diseases
The biological functioning of cells depends on the right folding of thousands of proteins. Normally, cells automatically correct misfolded proteins. In diseases such as Alzheimers, Parkinson's and Creutzfeld-Jacob's, however, misfolded proteins are deposited in the body's tissues. In Alzheimer's disease the most common form of dementia, which in Belgium alone affects about 100,000 people misfolding of the A -amyloid peptide leads in various stages to the formation of plaques. These plaques consist of accumulations of so-called fibrils and is not in itself toxic. One of the intermediary stages in the formation of plaques is the formation of the protofibril form of the A -peptide. Protofibrils are toxic for brain cells, causing the poisoned cells to die off and leading to memory loss. This is why these protofibrils are considered to be the main cause of the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
Surrounding brain lipids destabilize plaques
VIB researchers were able, using certain lipids, to convert the fibrils into protofibrils. This came as a surprise, for it had long been assumed that the fibrils and the plaque they cause are stable and that once they have
|Contact: Sooike Stoops|
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology)