The researchers at The Chinese University of Hong Kong injectedfluorescently-taggedbeta-amyloid into the gut of mice. The proteins moved to the nervous system in our gut. The misfolded proteins were seen a year later in parts of the brain involved in cognitive deficits of Alzheimer’s disease including the hippocampus, the part of our brain that affects our memory. These animals experienced cognitive impairments.
As this study was conducted in mice, it needs verification by looking for post-mortem changes in inflammation in the gut and brain of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Development of drug treatments for Alzheimer’s disease has been unsuccessful so we instead need new approaches for preventing AD development. This could be a potential route for preventing the disease by targeting these misfolded proteins in the gut.
Commenting on the study, senior author JohnARudd said:
“This concept issimilar tothe transport of misfolded proteins from the gut such as those responsible for mad cow disease. If this is the case, a similar process may start in humans many years ahead of the manifestations of the classical hallmarks of AD including memory loss, and so prevention strategies would need to start earlier as well.”