IU-led Brain Study Suggests New Ways to Protect Against Neurodegeneration
Higher levels of an enzyme in the brain correlate with better cognitive function in older people
Many neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and Lou Gehrig’s disease, are caused by the buildup of proteins in the brain. These conditions are called proteinopathies and can occur when each protein unfolds incorrectly causing them to become sticky and form clumps or buildups in the brain. In this study, researchers from Indiana University (IU) found evidence that an enzyme known as NMNAT2 may protect against the buildup by binding to misfolded proteins to prevent or repair the errors that have occurred. “This study found that NMNAT2, or nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyl transferase 2, is a key neuronal maintenance factor,” said Hui-Chen Lu, the Gill Professor in the Linda and Jack Gill Center for Biomolecular Science and the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, a part of the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences. “It exerts both an enzyme function to protect neurons from stress caused by over-excitation, and a ‘chaperone’ function, shown for the first time in this study, to combat the misfolded proteins encountered by the brain during aging.” To read more on this study, click here.
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