Lenzie Ford, PhD, of the University of Sussex, United Kingdom, and colleagues made the discovery by examining the effect of beta-amyloid protein inserted into the healthy brains of pond snails.
While the protein is suspected of playing a key role in the progression of Alzheimer’s, not much is known about how the beta-amyloid plaques lead to memory loss.
The researchers performed a food-reward task on the snails. Following this, some of the snails were injected with beta-amyloid protein. When the task was repeated 24 hours later, the snails who had received the beta-amyloid showed significantly impaired memories, the researchers reported in the journal Scientific Reports.
“What we observed was that snail brains remained apparently healthy even after the application of the protein,” Ford said in a statement. “There was no loss of brain tissue, no signs of cell death, no changes in the normal behavior of the animals, and yet memory was lost.
“This shows that Alzheimer's amyloid proteins don't just affect memory by killing neurons of the brain, they seem to be targeting specific molecular pathways necessary for memories to be preserved,” she added.
Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks, according to the National Institute on Aging. In most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first…
A brain protein believed to be a key component in the progress of dementia can cause memory loss in healthy brains even before physical signs of degeneration appear according to new University of Sussex research.
The study, published in the open access Nature Publishing Group journal Scientific Reports, reveals a direct link between the main culprit of Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss.
Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain tissue. These amyloid plaques are made up of an insoluble protein, ‘Amyloid-beta,’ which forms small structures called ‘oligomers’ that are important in the disease progression.