Potential new treatment target for Alzheimer's disease

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A new study not only sheds light on how the APOE4 gene may cause some of the pathologies associated with Alzheimer's disease, but also suggests a new treatment target that might help people who carry the APOE4 gene in early and late stages of the disease. Researchers found that APOE4 is associated with the activation of an inflammatory protein that causes a breakdown in the blood-brain barrier which protects the brain.
Like amyloid plaque, the genetic variant APOE4 has long been associated with Alzheimer's disease, but still little is known about the role the gene plays in the disease process.

Now, a new study published in Nature Aging not only sheds light on how the gene may instigate a cascade of pathologies that contribute to Alzheimer's disease, but also suggests a new treatment target that might help people who carry the APOE4 gene in early and late stages of the disease. Keck School of Medicine of USC researchers found that APOE4 is associated with the activation of an inflammatory protein that causes a breakdown in the blood-brain barrier which protects the brain.

This research builds on a recent USC study that revealed APOE4 triggers leaks in the blood-brain barrier in humans, which lets toxic substances from the blood stream into the brain, damaging brain cells and disrupting cognitive functions. This process causes memory problems in patients whether or not their brain shows signs of amyloid-β, the sticky plaque peptide considered a hallmark of the disease.

The latest findings also suggest a new potential treatment to slow down or prevent the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer's disease in patients with the APOE4 gene, independently of amyloid-β pathology.

"We're further focusing on therapeutics targets in blood vessels that could…
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