Astrocytes’ Role in Neurological Disorders, Alzheimer’s Disease

Astrocytes’ Role in Neurological Disorders, Alzheimer’s Disease
A study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience revealed new insights into the role played by astrocytes in neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. The study was conducted by an international research team and is entitled “Nuclear pore complex remodeling by p75NTR cleavage controls TGF-β signaling and astrocyte functions”. Astrocytes are cells critical for nutrient provision to the nervous tissue, maintenance of ion homeostasis and repair mechanisms in the brain and spinal cord. Upon brain injury, astrocytes produce high amounts of p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR), a protein that detects growth factors important for the stimulation of survival and differentiation in neuronal cells. One of the growth factors recognized is the transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta), which has been found in levels higher than normal in the brain of individuals with neurological disorders. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in the elderly and is characterized by cognitive and behavioral problems, and ultimately severe loss of mental function. Alzheimer’s disease is linked to the loss of neurons responsible for memory and learning. High levels of TGF-beta have been reported in Alzheimer’s disease patients and they are thought to represent a protective host response to the neuronal injury. Researchers have discovered that the p75NTR gene plays a key role in the astrocyte–neuronal communication. The team found that treating astrocytes with TGF-beta resulted in the release of a small fra
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