Manipulating Brain Cells called Astrocytes May Ease Alzheimer’s Symptoms, Study Finds

Manipulating Brain Cells called Astrocytes May Ease Alzheimer’s Symptoms, Study Finds
Manipulating astrocytes — a type of cell in the brain — to deliver a protein that favors the survival of neurons can rescue cognitive function, including memory, in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease, a study reports. The study, “Conditional BDNF delivery from astrocytes rescues memory deficits, spine density and synaptic properties in the 5xFAD mouse model of Alzheimer disease,” was published in the Journal of Neuroscience. A protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, is an important neurotransmitter — substances produced in response to nerve signals that act as chemical messengers — in the brain, and plays a role in both neuron signalling and survival. In fact, a mutation in the BDNF gene has been linked to accelerated loss of memory and cognitive decline in people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. While BDNF can become a promising therapy to treat Alzheimer's disease, its administration faces several challenges, including the lack of control to target only the sick tissue and the amount that is released — high doses can do the opposite and induce neuronal death. Researchers at the University of Barcelona, in Spain, studied BDNF released by astrocytes, a group of star-shaped nerve cells that provide neurons with energy and work as a platform to clean up their waste. Although BDNF is main
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