St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientists have discovered a pathway that functions like a car wash to prevent the buildup of a toxic protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The report appeared online in the journal Cell.
The findings in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s offer a possible new approach to treatment of the chronic neurodegenerative disorder, which is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. The newly identified pathway also helps regulate inflammation, so the discovery could yield strategies for unleashing the immune response against malignant brain tumors.
Researchers called the pathway LC3-associated endocytosis or LANDO. They found the pathway in microglial cells, the primary immune cells of the brain and central nervous system. However, preliminary evidence suggests LANDO is a fundamental process that functions in cells throughout the body.
Investigators showed that LANDO protected against deposits of neurotoxic β-amyloid protein in mice. Activation of the pathway also guarded against toxic neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration, including memory problems.
“In the context of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, activating LANDO in microglial cells could prove to be therapeutically beneficial through increased clearance of β-amyloid and mitigation of neuroinflammation,” said corresponding author Douglas Green, Ph.D., chair of the St. Jude Department of Immunology.
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