Home pagePress monitoringAlzheimer's protein kills nerve cells in nose

Alzheimer's protein kills nerve cells in nose

Date: 29.9.2011 

A protein linked to Alzheimer's disease kills nerve cells that detect odors. The findings shed light on why people with Alzheimer's disease often lose their sense of smell early on in the course of the disease.

"Deficits in odor detection and discrimination are among the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, suggesting that the sense of smell can potentially serve as a 'canary in the coal mine' for early diagnosis of the disease," said Leonardo Belluscio. "The changes taking place in the olfactory system as a result of Alzheimer's disease may be similar to those in other regions of the brain but appear more rapidly" he added.

The plaques are primarily derived from a protein called amyloid precursor protein (APP). The new study suggests that APP alone - in the absence of the plaques - may be to blame for the death of nerve cells. "Reducing APP production suppressed the widespread loss of nerve cells, suggesting that such disease-related death of nerve cells could potentially be stopped," Belluscio said.

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