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Two cardiovascular proteins pose a double whammy in Alzheimer's
Date:12/21/2008

Researchers have found that two proteins which work in tandem in the brain's blood vessels present a double whammy in Alzheimer's disease. Not only do the proteins lessen blood flow in the brain, but they also reduce the rate at which the brain is able to remove amyloid beta, the protein that builds up in toxic quantities in the brains of patients with the disease.

The work, described in a paper published online Dec. 21 in the journal Nature Cell Biology, provides hard evidence directly linking two processes thought to be at play in Alzheimer's disease: reduction in blood flow and the buildup of toxic amyloid beta. The research makes the interaction between the two proteins a seductive target for researchers seeking to address both issues.

Scientists were surprised at the finding, which puts two proteins known for their role in the cardiovascular system front and center in the development of Alzheimer's disease.

"This is quite unexpected," said Berislav Zlokovic, M.D., Ph.D., a neuroscientist and a senior author of the study. "On the other hand, both of these processes are mediated by the smooth muscle cells along blood vessel walls, and we know that those are seriously compromised in patients with Alzheimer's disease, so perhaps we shouldn't be completely surprised."

The new findings are the result of a seven-year collaboration between two laboratories. Zlokovic heads the Center for Neurodegenerative and Vascular Brain Disorders, looking at molecular roots of diseases like Alzheimer's. Several years ago, after he found that several genes well known to cardiovascular researchers seemed to be especially affected in Alzheimer's patients, he turned to Joseph Miano, Ph.D. to help analyze the findings. Miano is interim director of Aab Cardiovascular Research Institute and associate professor of Medicine, and he is senior co-author of the new study.

"To some, it might seem odd that a cardiovascular group would inter
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Contact: Tom Rickey
tom_rickey@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-7954
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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