Protein May Play Role in Alzheimer's

CHICAGO, Sept. 23 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say a protein — neutral sphingomyelinase — may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago say the protein may be linked to plaques and tangles in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease. They say activating the protein can cause a chain of reactions in the cell leading to nerve cell or neuronal death and memory loss.


The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, determined neutral sphingomyelinase triggers neuronal death. They also determined inhibiting the protein led to fewer dead nerve cells.

“There are multiple, neurotoxic, disease-causing pathways that converge on the neutral sphingomyelinase that can cause neuronal loss in the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient,” lead investigator Kalipada Pahan says in a statement. “If we can stop the activation of the neutral sphingomylinase, we may be able to stop memory loss and the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Pahan and colleagues tested both molecular and chemical inhibitors using human brain cells in a mouse model and a cell culture model.

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