18 January 2009

Collagen VI may protect neurons against amyloid-beta toxicity

A special type of collagen may help protect the brain against Alzheimer’s disease
Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease: 7 January 2009
Scientists from the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease (GIND), UCSF, and Stanford have discovered that a certain type of collagen, collagen VI, protects brain cells against amyloid-beta (Aβ) proteins, which are widely thought to cause Alzheimer's disease. While the functions of collagens in cartilage and muscle are well established, before this study it was unknown that collagen VI is made by neurons in the brain and that it can fulfill important neuroprotective functions.

The team of investigators led by GIND director Lennart Mucke, MD, reported in a recent edition of the journal Nature Neuroscience, that collagen VI is increased in brain tissues of Alzheimer's patients.

“We first noticed the increase in collagen VI in the brain of Alzheimer's disease mouse models, which inspired us to look for it in the human condition and to define its role in the disease,” said Dr. Mucke.

The Gladstone team had profiled changes in gene expression using DNA microarrays, which provides an unbiased method for identifying key biological pathways. By comparing all of the genes that are active in disease and normal tissue, one can get valuable information on new pathways and potential therapeutic targets. … > full story

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