Alzheimer’s and Circadian Rhythms: New Findings

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The brain’s ability to clear a protein closely linked to Alzheimer’s disease is tied to our circadian cycle, according to research published today in PLOS Genetics. The research underscores the importance of healthy sleep habits in preventing the protein Amyloid-Beta 42 (AB42) from forming clumps in the brain, and opens a path to potential Alzheimer’s therapies.

“Circadian regulation of immune cells plays a role in the intricate relationship between the circadian clock and Alzheimer’s disease,” said Jennifer Hurley, an expert in circadian rhythms, and associate professor of biological science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “This tells us a healthy sleep pattern might be important to alleviate some of the symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease, and this beneficial effect might be imparted by an immune cell type called macrophages/microglia.”

The research was conducted at the Rensselaer Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, which has a focus on neurodegenerative disease. Dr. Hurley worked with Rensselaer professors Robert Linhardt, a glycans expert and inventor of synthetic heparin, and Chunyu Wang, whose ongoing research has detailed several mechanisms in the production and spread of proteins implicated in Alzheimer’s.

“This insight reveals a new mechanism and path to treatment of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s through an interdisciplinary approach, and is emblematic of the CBIS strength in research and discovery and provides a new angle to human health and well-being,” said Deepak Vashishth, director of the CBIS

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