“Our findings are important because they suggest that tau may be a good target for developing therapies against Alzheimer’s and related diseases,” said senior author Ottavio Arancio, PhD, of Columbia University.
Too many small aggregates of a protein called tau in the brain can directly interfere with memory, according to new animal research presented at Neuroscience 2010, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.
Many neurodegenerative diseases are marked by an accumulation of protein aggregates in the brain, and Alzheimer’s disease is no exception. The two most common aggregating proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease are amyloid-beta and tau, which form the neural plaques and tangles that are hallmarks of the disease. Recently, scientists have begun to focus on some of the smaller, still-soluble forms of these protein aggregates, called oligomers, which may be especially toxic to neurons.“Our findings are important because they suggest that tau may be a good target for developing therapies against Alzheimer’s and related diseases,” said senior author Ottavio Arancio, PhD, of Columbia University.
Arancio and his colleagues found that tau oligomers impaired fearful memories in mice. Tau oligomers also disrupted synaptic plasticity — cellular events important for memory formation.
“Our findings suggest that tau is critically involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease — and that reducing the abnormal aggregation of the protein may prove to be an effective treatment approach,” Arancio said.
Research was supported by the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and Oligomerix, Inc.
- About the Alzheimer's Reading Room
- Alzheimer's Disease and the Five Stages of Grief
- What’s the Difference Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia?
- Alzheimer's CareGiving -- Insight and Advice
- Test Your Memory for Alzheimer's (5 Best Self Assessment Tests)
- Communicating in Alzheimer's World
- Worried About Alzheimer's Disease -- You Should Be
- What is Alzheimer's? What are the Eight Types of Dementia?
- Does the Combination of Aricept and Namenda Help Slow the Rate of Decline in Alzheimer's Patients
- Alzheimer's Disease Statistics
- Is it Really Alzheimer's or Something Else?
- Ten Symptoms of Early Stage Alzheimer's
- Ten Tips for Communicating with an Alzheimer’s Patient
Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room