Stimulating the growth of new neurons to replace those lost in Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is an intriguing therapeutic possibility. But will the factors that cause AD allow the new neurons to thrive and function normally? Scientists at the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease (GIND) have discovered that two main causes of AD amyloid-beta (aβ) peptides and apolipoprotein E4 (apoE4) impair the growth of new neurons born in adult brains.
What is more, they have identified drug treatments that can normalize the development of these cells even in the presence of Aβ or apoE4. The findings are described in two separate papers published in the current issue of Cell Stem Cell.
Although it had long been assumed that neurons cannot be renewed, it is now well established that new neurons are generated throughout the lives of mammals. One brain region in which new neurons are born in adults, the hippocampus, is involved in learning and memory and affected severely by Alzheimer's disease.