Cholesterol in brain linked to Alzheimer's plaque development, new study shows. The research analyzes why cholesterol has been associated with increased risk for Alzheimer's.
In the latest research, the scientists from the University of Virginia School of Medicine and their collaborators discovered that a protein called amyloid-beta develops in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's. This protein gathers in the insoluble plaques that indicate the disease.
The recent study looks at the how and why the plaques build up and may shows why cholesterol is associated with increased risk for Alzheimer's.
Scientists behind the new research focused on the production of cholesterol in astrocytes and reduction of amyloid-beta, and prevention of plaques from ever being formed. They also shed light on the role of astrocytes in Alzheimer's disease.
Scientists explain that astrocytes help drive the development of Alzheimer's by spreading cholesterol to brain cells called neurons. This cholesterol development increases amyloid-beta production and forms plaque accumulation. The researchers say that amyloid-beta may play an important role in brain cells. In Alzheimer's disease, the neurons lose fails to regulate amyloid-beta, resulting in plaque formation.
"If we can find strategies to prevent astrocytes from over-producing cholesterol, we might make a real impact on the development of Alzheimer's disease," researcher Heather A. Ferris, MD, PhD, of UVA's Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism said. "Once people start having memory problems from Alzheimer's disease, countless neurons have already died. We hope that targeting cholesterol can prevent that death from ever occurring in the first place."