Scientists from the DZNE sites in G-ttingen and Bonn, the UMG as well as from the US participated in this basic research project on Alzheimer's disease. The study is published in "EMBO Molecular Medicine".
The researchers led by Prof. Andr- Fischer, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the University Medical Center Gottingen and Site Speaker of the DZNE in G-ttingen, investigated mice with a modified genetic background. The animals showed behavioural disorders and brain deposits that are typically associated with Alzheimer's disease. The researchers went a step further with a group of other animals by removing the genes responsible for the production of the HDAC6 enzyme (histone deacetylase 6). This intervention proved to be effective: while these mice also exhibited the pathological features of Alzheimer's disease in the brain, their behaviour was significantly ameliorated. "The animals' ability to learn and to find their spatial bearings was relatively normal", says Prof. Fischer. "Their cognitive abilities were fully comparable to those of healthy mice."
Improved cellular traffic
In the researchers' view, this effect is at least partly attributable to the fact that important transport processes within the nerve cells are facilitated when the HDAC6 enzyme is not around. This meant in particular that the cells' power plants, also known as "mitochondria", can travel to their final destinations. "It is known that in various neurodegenerative diseases cellular transport is no longer functional. The substances that are to be transported along axons are left behind", Fischer says. "Measures which improve trafficking seem to have a positive effect."
Possible target for therapy?