Navigation Links
UCLA study suggests iron is at core of Alzheimer's disease
Date:8/20/2013

Alzheimer's disease has proven to be a difficult enemy to defeat. After all, aging is the No. 1 risk factor for the disorder, and there's no stopping that.

Most researchers believe the disease is caused by one of two proteins, one called tau, the other beta-amyloid. As we age, most scientists say, these proteins either disrupt signaling between neurons or simply kill them.

Now, a new UCLA study suggests a third possible cause: iron accumulation.

Dr. George Bartzokis, a professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA and senior author of the study, and his colleagues looked at two areas of the brain in patients with Alzheimer's. They compared the hippocampus, which is known to be damaged early in the disease, and the thalamus, an area that is generally not affected until the late stages. Using sophisticated brain-imaging techniques, they found that iron is increased in the hippocampus and is associated with tissue damage in that area. But increased iron was not found in the thalamus.

The research appears in the August edition of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

While most Alzheimer's researchers focus on the buildup of tau or beta-amyloid that results in the signature plaques associated with the disease, Bartzokis has long argued that the breakdown begins much further "upstream." The destruction of myelin, the fatty tissue that coats nerve fibers in the brain, he says, disrupts communication between neurons and promotes the buildup of the plaques. These amyloid plaques in turn destroy more and more myelin, disrupting brain signaling and leading to cell death and the classic clinical signs of Alzheimer's.

Myelin is produced by cells called oligodendrocytes. These cells, along with myelin, have the highest levels of iron of any cells in the brain, Bartzokis says, and circumstantial evidence has long supported the possibility that brain iron levels might be a risk factor for age-related diseases like Alzheimer's. Although iron is essential for cell function, too much of it can promote oxidative damage, to which the brain is especially vulnerable.

In the current study, Bartzokis and his colleagues tested their hypothesis that elevated tissue iron caused the tissue breakdown associated with Alzheimer's disease. They targeted the vulnerable hippocampus, a key area of the brain involved in the formation of memories, and compared it to the thalamus, which is relatively spared by Alzheimer's until the very late stages of disease.

The researchers used an MRI technique that can measure the amount of brain iron in ferritin, a protein that stores iron, in 31 patients with Alzheimer's and 68 healthy control subjects.

In the presence of diseases like Alzheimer's, as the structure of cells breaks down, the amount of water increases in the brain, which can mask the detection of iron, according to Bartzokis.

"It is difficult to measure iron in tissue when the tissue is already damaged," he said. "But the MRI technology we used in this study allowed us to determine that the increase in iron is occurring together with the tissue damage. We found that the amount of iron is increased in the hippocampus and is associated with tissue damage in patients with Alzheimer's but not in the healthy older individuals or in the thalamus. So the results suggest that iron accumulation may indeed contribute to the cause of Alzheimer's disease."

But it's not all bad news from this study, Bartzokis noted.

"The accumulation of iron in the brain may be influenced by modifying environmental factors, such as how much red meat and iron dietary supplements we consume and, in women, having hysterectomies before menopause," he said.

In addition, he noted, medications that chelate and remove iron from tissue are being developed by several pharmaceutical companies as treatments for the disorder. This MRI technology may allow doctors to determine who is most in need of such treatments.


'/>"/>

Contact: Mark Wheeler
mwheeler@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2265
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Brain cancer survival improved following FDA approval of bevacizumab, Mayo study finds
2. The concussed brain at work: fMRI study documents brain activation during concussion recovery
3. Newest Bard IVC Filter Failure Lawsuit Allegations Update: Resource4thePeople Urges Consumers to Review FDA, Research Study Findings about Adverse Events
4. Longest and largest study of insulin pumps to treat type 1 diabetes in children shows they control blood sugar more effectively and with fewer complications than injections
5. Autistic kids who best peers at math show different brain organization, Stanford/Packard study shows
6. Apnix Sleep Diagnostics Announces New Sleep Study in Houston
7. Sexual health for postmenopausal women improved by hypnotic relaxation therapy, Baylor study shows
8. New University of Michigan Study Discovers Obesity Causes Vary By Gender
9. Study shows feral cat control could benefit from different approach
10. New study shows vitamin D-related molecular switches predict childhood bone mass
11. Researcher awarded $1.8 million grant to study gender differences in antidepressant effects
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:7/21/2017)... ... July 21, 2017 , ... ... selected to renovate and improve the Ramsey County Medical Examiners Facility located in ... Hospital, the $2.5 million project is scheduled to start in late 2017/early 2018. ...
(Date:7/21/2017)... ... 21, 2017 , ... The Margarian Law Firm has filed a class ... ale for allegedly containing no ginger. Dr. Pepper produces the “Canada Dry” brand of ... Margaryan alleges Canada Dry Ginger Ale claims on its bottle that it is made ...
(Date:7/21/2017)... ... July 21, 2017 , ... ... Tears® EyeMist®, the signature product of her research center at Bio-Logic Aqua Research® ... largest population and the greatest number of sufferers of blindness. “We think that ...
(Date:7/20/2017)... Aliso Viejo, CA (PRWEB) , ... July 20, 2017 , ... ... effect when placed between two clips in the FCPX timeline. This effect isolates horizontal ... Each transition in this package contains either a rotating or flipping animation and can ...
(Date:7/20/2017)... ... July 20, 2017 , ... For individuals with extended hospital stays or ... used in such facilities are specially designed to accommodate patients with a wide range ... An inventor from Rochester, Ind., has invented the patent-pending PORTABLE ARM REST, a specially ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:7/21/2017)... International plc (NASDAQ: ENDP ) today announced ... network, the Company will be ceasing operations and closing ... Alabama . The closure of the facilities is ... 18 months. The Huntsville location ... and these restructuring actions are intended to better match ...
(Date:7/15/2017)... Enterin Inc., a Philadelphia -based biotechnology company ... the completion of a $12.7 million Series A financing round. ... as the participation of existing investors. ... of New Ventures III and our current investors, and view ... of our platform technology to transform the course of PD ...
(Date:7/13/2017)... -- New York City-based market research firm Kalorama Information notes seven ... From new products to new costs, to the threat of ... study, Potential Pipeline Disruptors . Among them ... 1.  Age-Driven Growth - True Impact Moment Arriving   ... the growing population and, to a more extreme extent, the ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: