Liver produces protein that triggers Alzheimer’s

posted on 09/15/2021 06:00

  (credit: BrianLananna/Disclosure)

(credit: BrianLananna/Disclosure)

Liver activity may be linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s, according to Australian scientists. The researchers reached this conclusion after observing, in an experiment with rats, that the beta-amyloid protein produced in the organ is able to reach the guinea pig’s brain and generate significant neurodegenerative damage. Details about the experiment were presented in the latest issue of the specialist journal Plos Biology.

“Deposits of beta-amyloid in the brain are one of the best-known pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s, but this substance is also present in peripheral organs,” the article’s authors explain. Based on this prior knowledge, they decided to assess whether the protein that appeared in other regions of the body could be related to neurodegenerative disease. “Testing this hypothesis has been difficult, since distinguishing the source of these proteins is a complex challenge,” they say.

To help with this task, the team developed, in the laboratory, mice that produced beta-amyloid only in liver cells. The analyzes showed that, in these rodents, the protein was released into the blood through lipoproteins rich in triglycerides, just as it happens in humans, and, in this way, it managed to reach the brain.

The guinea pigs developed neurodegeneration and brain atrophy, which was accompanied by neurovascular inflammation and dysfunction of the cerebral capillaries, both alterations commonly seen in patients with Alzheimer’s.

“The affected rats performed poorly in a learning test that depends on the function of the hippocampus, the brain structure that is essential for the formation of new memories”, details, in a statement, John Mamo, researcher at Curtin University, Australia , and lead author of the study.

Scientists believe that the results obtained can, in addition to favoring the understanding of the origins of Alzheimer’s, help in the development of new prevention and treatment strategies for the incurable disease. “Lifestyle factors can play an important role, including a high-fat diet, which can accelerate the production of beta-amyloid in the liver. We will need to avoid consuming these fatty foods,” says Mamo.