(RxWiki News) In Alzheimer’s patients, a naturally occurring protein, Tau, acts strangely and forms tangles in the brain. New research suggests that another protein, FKBP52, may have something to do with it.
Reduced levels of the FKBP52 protein in the brain have been linked to an increased number of Tau tangles. The tangles are known disrupt nerve activity and be toxic to the cognitive abilities of the brain.
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“Research on Tau has been very limited,” says Etienne Baulieu, Ph.D., of the National Institute for medical research in France. “[The FKBP52 protein’s] reduced production in the brains of Alzheimer's patients marks a turning point in understanding this complex disease.”
The research team analyzed the brain cells of deceased Alzheimer’s patients and compared them to brain cells of those who did not have Alzheimer’s.
Those who had suffered from Alzheimer’s showed reduced levels of the FKBP52 protein in their brain cells. Of course, they also showed the known biomarker for Alzheimer’s - the Tau tangles.
The researchers hypothesize that the FKBP52 protein may control the production of the toxic Tau tangles. Therefore, measurement of FKBP52 levels may form the basis of a test to predict the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. It could also aid in the development of new pharmaceuticals to treat the disease.
“I believe it takes us one step closer to developing an effective treatment and possible predictive tests for the increasing number of people who may develop Alzheimer's Disease in our ageing societies," adds Baulieu.
The study was published online March 20, 2012 in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and was funded by the Institut Baulieu, which was founded by Baulieu himself.