In Alzheimer’s Patients, Blood Flow to Brain Appears Hampered by Plaques

In Alzheimer’s Patients, Blood Flow to Brain Appears Hampered by Plaques
A recent study suggests that amyloid beta plaques may alter normal blood flow to brain tissue and contribute to development of Alzheimer’s disease. The paper, published in the journal Brain, is entitled Vascular amyloidosis impairs the gliovascular unit in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.” Alzheimer’s involves numerous complicated processes, and the causes and mechanisms of its development are not yet clearly defined. A number of studies have highlighted the presence of abnormal levels of extracellular amyloid beta plaque deposits in the brain tissue of Alzheimer’s patients, but how these deposited plaques affect brain activity is still debated. Nerve cells extract energy from glucose sugar transported through the blood stream. In this process, cells called astrocytes are involved in the regulation of blood flow through vessels by increasing and decreasing their diameters according to signals received from a mediating species named astrocytic endfeet. A study published in 2014 showed that in brain tumors, malignant astrocytes may travel through blood vessels to interfere with function of astrocytic endfeet in regulating blood flow. In this study, the researchers investigated whether amyloid beta plaques similarly interfere with the role of astrocytic endfeet in regulating blood flow. They used advanced laser-scanning microscopes to visualize deep into a living brain to form three-dimensional, volumetric images of brain morphology. “In a live animal
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