ApoE4 Protein, Common in Alzheimer’s Patients, May Work to Impair Memory Formation

ApoE4 Protein, Common in Alzheimer’s Patients, May Work to Impair Memory Formation
The major genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD), the apolipoprotein E4 gene, is responsible for the disruption of a particular type of brain activity required for memory consolidation, according to the study "Apolipoprotein E4 Causes Age-Dependent Disruption of Slow Gamma Oscillations during Hippocampal Sharp-Wave Ripples," published in the journal Neuron. AD, one of the most common diseases among aging populations, is characterized by a progressive disruption in memory function. The hippocampus, a brain structure critical for learning and memory processes, is one of the first sites were AD pathology is detected, but it is not clear how the genetic and cellular pathologies of AD disrupt this area of the brain. The apoE4 protein, a protein involved in lipid metabolism, is present in about 65-80 percent of patients with Azheimer's and is known to lower the age of AD onset in a gene dose-dependent manner. The mechanisms through which apoE4 causes AD pathogenesis, however, were not known. Researchers at the Gladstone Institutes in California inserted the human apoE4 gene into mice. Researchers found that this protein was able to change the activity of neurons in the hippocampus, leading to the age-dependent learning and memory impairments seen in AD patients. Particularly, apoE4 decreased sharp wave ripples and coincident slow gamma activity, two types of brain activity involved in memory formation. During the ripples, previous experiences are replayed a number of times to preserve their memory. Slow gamma activity makes s
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