Differences in How Proteins Spread in Brain May Explain Increase in Alzheimer’s Risk With Age, Mouse Study Suggests

Differences in How Proteins Spread in Brain May Explain Increase in Alzheimer’s Risk With Age, Mouse Study Suggests
Differences in how proteins move in the brain at older ages may explain why the risk of Alzheimer's disease increases with age, according to a new study in mice. The study, "Experimental evidence for the age dependence of tau protein spread in the brain," was published in the journal Science Advances. It's a well-known fact that older people are more likely to develop Alzheimer's. But why exactly is that? One hypothesis is that older brains allow pathological, or disease-causing proteins to spread more easily. Researchers note that there are two types of protein "clumps" known to be present in Alzheimer's brains: amyloid beta plaques and tau neurofibrillary tangles. While both are involved in the development of Alzheimer's, the emergence of the tau proteins reflects disease progression. These proteins are believed to spread along nerve cells from one to another. This might explain, at least in part, how the disease progresses, affecting more and more parts of the brain. To find out whether tau proteins can spread more easily in aged brains, a team led by Susanne Wegmann, PhD, of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, turned to gene vectors — modified viruses that deliver foreign DNA into cells. The researchers used the gene vectors to engineer the brains of old and young mice to express human tau prote
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