We dont know if this finding in mice will apply to humans, says David M. Holtzman, M.D., the Charlotte and Paul Hagemann Associate Professor of Neurology and associate professor of molecular biology and pharmacology at the School of Medicine. If it does, it has the potential to provide a non-invasive means of detecting Alzheimers pathology even before clinical symptoms appear.
Holtzman led the Washington University research team and Steven M. Paul, M.D., group vice president at Lilly Research Laboratories, led the Lilly team. Washington University research fellow Ronald B. DeMattos, Ph.D., was first author; Lillys Kelly R. Bales, was a co-first author. The study is published in the March 22 issue of Science.
Recent studies have revealed physical changes that can begin in the brains of Alzheimers patients 10 to 20 years before symptoms arise. For reasons not entirely understood, potentially dangerous amounts of a protein called amyloid-b (Ab) begin to build up in these individuals. If enough Ab clumps together in the brain, it forms amyloid plaques, a key feature of Alzheimers disease.
Brain plaques are somewhat analogous to the plaques characteristic of arteriosclerosis, explains Paul. If you have a heart attack at age 65, the atherosclerotic process that caused that event probably started decades beforehand. Since we now know that Alzheimers pathology starts well before symptoms appear, were hoping it may be possible to develop a test that predicts the presence of amyloid plaques and, ultim
Contact: Gila Z. Reckess
Washington University School of Medicine