As the largest resource of information specific to women's brain health, we are sure you will find what you are looking for, and promise that you will discover new information.
Published on: April 20, 2012
by Laura Bailey for Medical XPress
Changes in the epigenome, a structure that controls the function of genes, were found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
These epigenetic changes can be caused by exposure to environmental toxicants or lifestyle behaviors, according to a study out of the University of Michigan School of Public Health. If researchers can establish a causal link between epigenetic changes and toxicants, it could lead to new treatments, or even the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. This paper did not look at specific toxicants, but future studies in this body of research will, said Laura Rozek, assistant professor in the SPH and study co-author.
Further, these epigenetic changes, which cause genes to behave differently over a person’s lifetime, could be reversible. The researchers found higher rates of a kind of an epigenetic change called methylation in genes located in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s, said Rozek, who also has an appointment in the Department of Otolaryngology at the U-M Health System.
“Our next step is to look at exposures that occurred earlier in life and try to link those exposures to the epigenetic changes we saw in the brain,” Rozek said. “That way we may find evidence that toxicants are linked to the epigenetic changes that are present in the brains in the people with Alzheimer’s.”
In the study, researchers did a postmortem comparison of the brains of 50 subjects, half with late onset Alzheimer’s, said Dana Dolinoy, assistant professor in the U-M SPH and study co-author. Lower methylation and higher expression of the TMEM59 protein were associated with the Alzheimer’s subjects, which suggests that the TMEM59 protein could be a good therapeutic taget to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s, Rozek said.
“If there are epigenetic changes in the brain they are potentially modifiable, there are probably ways to reverse these changes,” Rozek said. “It may be a good biomarker to target for drug therapy for late onset Alzheimer’s.”
Researchers looked only at late onset Alzheimer’s, which is vastly more common than early onset Alzheimer’s, which affects only about 2 percent of people and sets in before age 60.
Scientists have identified several genes that may increase a person’s risk for developing Alzheimer’s. The same genes can have different outcomes in different people. So, other factors must play a role in developing the disease, and this has fueled studies on the epigenetics of Alzheimer’s.
Howard Hu, chair of the SPH Department of Environmental Health Sciences, is the principal investigator on the study. Co-authors include Kelly Bakulski, U-M SPH, and researchers from the U-M Health System and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs in Ann Arbor.
Yale researchers have tested a new method for directly measuring synaptic loss in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. The method, which uses PET imaging technology to scan for a specific protein in the brain linked to synapses, has...
Sometimes, the hardest part of living with a mental illness isn’t the symptoms, or the management — it’s dealing with stigma from other people. And unfortunately, many people who live with mental illness face stigma...
The root cause of behavioural outbursts in someone with Alzheimer’s disease is mostly due to the decline in the person’s language and communication skills. Outbursts also can be caused by an unmet need or needs. The affected...
The material presented through the Think Tank feature on this website is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner. WBHI strongly advises all questioners and viewers using this feature with health problems to consult a qualified physician, especially before starting any treatment. The materials provided on this website cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment. The materials are not exhaustive and cannot always respect all the most recent research in all areas of medicine.