Posted by: Hourglass PJ30 OCT 2013
Resveratrol, a compound suggested to be responsible for the health benefits associated with red wine, is now in the spotlight as the basis of future treatments for Alzheimer’s disease in people carrying a specific gene.
The major genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, present in about two-thirds of people who develop the disease, is ApoE4, the cholesterol-carrying protein that about a quarter of us are born with. But one of the unsolved mysteries of Alzheimer’s disease is how ApoE4 causes the risk for the condition.
In research published recently in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at the Buck Institute in the US found a link between ApoE4 and SirT1, an “anti-ageing protein” that is targeted by resveratrol. The researchers found that ApoE4 causes a dramatic reduction in SirT1 both in cultured nerve cells and in brain samples from patients with ApoE4 and Alzheimer’s disease. The reduction in SirT1 is linked with a change in the way the amyloid precursor protein is processed. ApoE4 favours the formation of the amyloid-beta peptide that is associated with the sticky plaques that are one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.
Another interesting finding was that the abnormalities associated with ApoE4 and Alzheimer’s disease could be prevented by increasing SirT1.
The group has identified drug candidates that exert the same effect and the aim is to identify a safe, non-toxic treatment that could be given to anyone who carries the ApoE4 gene to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease.