Could the liver hold the key to Alzheimer's?

27 February 2009

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Category: Research & medical benefits

white–rats.jpgUsing rats, scientists have clarified the role of the liver in the clearance of a toxic protein thought to be the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. The findings are promising as they could lead to a new target in the development of new treatments for the disease.

The new study is based on the principle that the liver could be involved in clearing a damaging protein called A-beta from the blood, which in turn could help A-beta clearance from the brain. To investigate this, the team looked at the process in reverse by manipulating the livers of laboratory rats to reduce clearance, and so increase the levels of A-beta in the blood. They observed that the raise in A-beta levels in the blood reduced the rate at which the protein was cleared from the brain. So levels in the peripheral bloodstream affect levels of A-beta in the brain.

These findings contradict past research suggesting that the circulatory system acted like an A-beta ‘sink’, as this data clearly shows that the liver is the primary drain. The team believes that helping the liver to clear A-beta protein from the blood could provide a new way of combating the detrimental neurological effects of Alzheimer's.

AnimalResearch.info on Alzheimer's disease