Alzheimer’s Study Finds Astrocytes Do Not Rush to Destroy Brain Plaque

Alzheimer’s Study Finds Astrocytes Do Not Rush to Destroy Brain Plaque
Astrocytes, brain cells thought to migrate to and destroy the amyloid plaques that are associated with the development of Alzheimer's disease, are actually repelled by the plaques, researchers analyzing models of the brain report. Their study, titled “Topological analyses in APP/PS1 mice reveal that astrocytes do not migrate to amyloid-β plaques,” was recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Astrocytes, the most abundant cell type in the central nervous system, are involved in the structural and metabolic support of neurons and the stability of synaptic activity. Several studies have suggested that amyloid plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease pathogenicity, attract these cells to reduce the presence of amyloid structures and alleviate injury. This mechanism, in fact, has been explored in the ongoing development of new therapeutic strategies for AD, but more recent research suggests that astrocyte migration does not occur following injury. To re-examine astrocyte reaction to amyloid plaques, researchers from the Institute of Neuroscience of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, in collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital, studied astrocyte distribution in the brains of Alzheimer’s mouse models, applying quantitative spatial analysis and computer modeling used in physics studies. By examining 3-D images of astrocyte distribution, researchers observed these cells repel each other and are repelled by amyloid plaques. This balance of repulsive forces maintains the territorial organization of astrocytes and, contrary the previous AD research, astrocytes d
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