Alzheimer’s May Progress Through Spread of a Brain Tau Protein

Alzheimer’s May Progress Through Spread of a Brain Tau Protein
Scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have published a new study describing how neurofibrillary tangles — one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease — develop. Alzheimer's disease is characterized by a progressive degeneration of specific brain regions, starting with those areas involved in memory. Two proteins are found at high levels in the brains of people with Alzheimer's, beta-amyloid and hyperphosphorylated tau. Scientists have long debated whether or not these proteins are a cause or consequence of Alzheimer's disease. But more recently, researchers have agreed that tau indeed seems to be a key player underlying the brain cell death found in Alzheimer's disease. In the report, titled "Neuronal uptake and propagation of a rare phosphorylated high-molecular-weight tau derived from Alzheimer’s disease brain" and published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers described how phosphorylated tau, the protein responsible for neurofibrillary tangles, spreads through the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. "It has been postulated that tangles — the abnormal accumulation of tau protein that fills neurons in Alzheimer's disease — can travel from neuron to neuron as the disease progresses, spreading dysfunction through the brain as the disease progresses. But how that happens has been uncertain," remarked Bradley Hyman, MD, PhD, directo
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