Fat build-up in brain cells could cause Alzheimer's

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  • 2 months ago

A recent study by Michael Haney at the University of Pennsylvania suggests that the root cause of Alzheimer's disease may involve a build-up of fat droplets in brain cells. This new understanding could potentially lead to more effective treatments than the current strategy of targeting proteins.

The common explanation for Alzheimer's disease has focused on the build-up of beta-amyloid protein in plaques between nerve cells. However, Haney's research highlights the presence of fat droplets in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer's disease, which has been largely overlooked in previous studies.

Haney's study focused on the APOE gene, the biggest genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. The team found that individuals with the APOE4 variant had higher levels of a certain enzyme in brain immune cells, leading to an accumulation of fat droplets. This fat accumulation then triggers the build-up of tau inside neurons, ultimately causing cell death and the symptoms of memory loss and confusion associated with Alzheimer's disease.

Irundika Dias at Aston University in the UK, who was not involved in the study, noted that previous research has also suggested a potential role for fat metabolism in other types of brain cells in Alzheimer's disease. The study by Haney and colleagues adds to the growing body of evidence linking lipid metabolism to the development of Alzheimer's disease.

Separate research by Dylan Williams at University College London has found that harmful APOE gene variants are behind more than three-quarters of Alzheimer's cases. This suggests that targeting the molecular pathway involving these gene variants could potentially prevent a large majority of Alzheimer's cases.

Overall, the findings from these studies provide new insights into the potential role of fat droplets and lipid metabolism in the development of Alzheimer's disease. Further research in this area could lead to novel therapeutic approaches for the treatment and prevention of this devastating condition.


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