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Study breaks blood-brain barriers to understanding Alzheimer's
Date:12/13/2013

ls and along brain blood vessels. Surprisingly, the brains of the crossbred mice had enhanced neuronal cell death and extensive neurofibrillary tangles in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex, regions that are typically affected during Alzheimer's.

"Our results suggest that damage to the vascular system may be a critical step in the development of full-blown Alzheimer's disease pathology," said Dr. Zlokovic.

Further experiments suggested that pericytes may transport beta-amyloid across the blood-brain barrier into the blood and showed that crossbreeding the mice slowed the rate at which beta-amyloid was cleared away from nerve cells in the brain.

Next, the researchers addressed how beta-amyloid may affect the vascular system. The crossbred mutants had more pericyte death and more damage to the blood-brain barrier than the PDGFR-beta mutant mice, suggesting beta-amyloid may enhance vascular damage. The investigators also confirmed previous findings showing that beta-amyloid accumulation leads to pericyte death.

Dr. Zlokovic and his colleagues concluded that their results support a two-hit vascular hypothesis of Alzheimer's. The hypothesis states that the toxic effects of increased beta-amyloid deposition on pericytes in aged blood vessels leads to a breakdown of the blood-brain barrier and a reduced ability to clear amyloid from the brain. In turn, the progressive accumulation of beta-amyloid in the brain and death of pericytes may become a damaging feedback loop that causes dementia. If true, then pericytes and other blood-brain barrier cells may be new therapeutic targets for treating Alzheimer's disease.


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Contact: Christopher G Thomas
nindspressteam@ninds.nih.gov
301-496-5751
NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Source:Eurekalert  

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