Alzheimer's Disease: A Brain Cell That May Make You Susceptible

by Lara DeSanto Health Writer

A particular type of brain cell may play a key role in making you vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study out of the Ohio State University.

The OSU researchers found that the excitatory neurons, or brain cells that are more likely to trigger an action, are more susceptible to a build-up of an abnormal tau protein that is believed to be linked to Alzheimer’s.

In people with early Alzheimer’s disease, there is an accumulation of abnormal tau protein that clogs and kills neurons. This protein build-up has also been linked to dementia and traumatic brain injury.

For the OSU study, researchers examined the brains of people with Alzheimer’s in addition to using a mouse model, and they found that the abnormal protein built up mainly in excitatory neurons, as opposed to inhibitory neurons. They also found genetic differences between excitatory neurons and other cells and determined the gene BAG3 played a role in clearing out abnormal tau protein.

Further research into how these genes and cells interact could lead to a better understanding of Alzheimer’s treatment, detection, and prevention.

Sourced from: Nature Neuroscience

Lara DeSanto
Meet Our Writer
Lara DeSanto

Lara is a former digital editor for HealthCentral, covering Sexual Health, Digestive Health, Head and Neck Cancer, and Gynecologic Cancers. She continues to contribute to HealthCentral while she works towards her masters in marriage and family therapy and art therapy. In a past life, she worked as the patient education editor at the American College of OB-GYNs and as a news writer/editor at WTOP.com.