Autophagy is a basic catabolic mechanism by which unnecessary or dysfunctional cellular components are degraded by lysosomes.
Damaged organelles such as mitochondria are scavenged by autophagic processes to maintain the stability of nerve cells. Excessive activation of autophagy leads to cell death. However, it remains unclear whether autophagy affects hippocampal neuronal injury in vascular dementia.
Prof. Bin Liu and co-workers from the Affiliated Hospital of Hebei United University, China intraperitoneally injected wortmannin into a rat model of vascular dementia. They found that wortmannin could inhibit hippocampal CA1 neuronal injury, elevate expression of the autophagy-related proteins beclin-1, cathepsin B and microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3. These results confirmed that autophagy is activated in the hippocampus of vascular dementia model rats, suggesting its involvement in the onset of vascular dementia, and that inhibition of autophagy has neuroprotective effects, indicating a novel pathway and target for drug treatment of vascular dementia. The relevant study has been published in the Neural Regeneration Research (Vol. 9, No. 13, 2014).