In patients with Alzheimer some neurons manage to escape death with a mechanism that has never been studied before. A mechanism that could be the basis of new therapies, according to what researchers from the Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome and the IRCCS Santa Lucia of Rome, authors of a study published in Molecular Neurodegeneration, affirm.
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Study: Neurons protect themselves with calcium
In the Alzheimer’s brain, the death of neurons in a specific area (the ventral tegmental area) occurs due to excessive calcium accumulation. This buildup is due to the loss of mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells. Experts have discovered that some neurons in this area, however, manage to escape death from excess calcium. How? With a calcium-capturing moleculecalbindin.
«The ventral tegmental area (VTA) has just 400-500 thousand neurons, a very small number compared to the 100 billion neurons that make up the entire brain. These neurons escape death, at least in the early stages of the disease through an increased expression of a cellular factor, calbindin, which is able to neutralize the toxicity of calcium that accumulates in suffering neurons» explained the authors of the study.
A possible therapy
«The identification of this form of response to neuronal damage adds valuable details on how the disease develops and, at the same time, offers further research insights for the prevention and treatment of the disease» continue the experts.
The study was directed by Marcello D’Amelio, Full Professor of Human Physiology at the Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome and Head of the Molecular Neurosciences laboratory of the Santa Lucia Foundation IRCCS and funded by the Rome Foundation and Alzheimer’s Association USA for Campus Bio- Doctor of Rome and Ministry of Health for IRCCS Fondazione S. Lucia. Researchers from the Polytechnic University of the Marches, the Catholic University of Rome and the University of Rome “Tor Vergata” also collaborated.
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