Spike in brain activity may deter Alzheimer’s

Tel Aviv, April 20 (IANS) Short bursts of brain activity may help protect from Alzheimer’s, says a study conducted by researchers in Israel.

Evidence indicates that the accumulation of amyloid-beta proteins, which form the plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, is critical for the development of Alzheimer’s disease, which impacts 5.4 million Americans. Not just the quantity, but also the quality of amyloid-beta peptides is crucial for Alzheimer’s initiation.

The disease is triggered by an imbalance in two different amyloid species — in Alzheimer’s patients, there is a reduction in a relative level of healthy amyloid-beta 40, compared to 42.

Now Inna Slutsky of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Sagol School of Neuroscience, with postdoctoral fellow Iftach Dolev and PhD student Hilla Fogel, have uncovered two main features of the brain circuits that impact this crucial balance.

The researchers have found that patterns of electrical pulses (called “spikes”) in the form of high-frequency bursts and the filtering properties of synapses are crucial to the regulation of the amyloid-beta 40/42 ratio.

Synapses that transfer information in spike bursts improve the amyloid-beta 40/42 ratio, reports Science Daily.

This represents a major advance in understanding that brain circuits regulate composition of amyloid-beta proteins, showing that the disease is not just driven by genetic mutations, but by physiological mechanisms as well.

The findings were recently reported in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

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