US scientists have found a stress-related protein that is responsible for accelerating Alzheimer’s disease.
These proteins are genetically linked to depression, anxiety and other psychiatric disorders leading to Alzheimer‘s disease, the study has found.
Researchers at the University of South Florida found when the stress-related protein FKBP51 partners with another protein known as Hsp90 it prevents the clearance from the brain of the toxic tau protein associated with Alzheimer‘s disease.
Hsp90 is a chaperone protein, which supervises the activity of tau inside nerve cells. Chaperone proteins typically help ensure that tau proteins are properly folded to maintain the healthy structure of nerve cells.
The stress-related protein partners with Hsp90 to make tau more deadly to the brain cells involved in memory formation, scientists said.
However, as FKBP51 levels increases with age, they usurp Hsp90’s beneficial effect to promote tau toxicity.
“We found that FKB51 commandeers Hsp90 to create an environment that prevents the removal of tau and makes it more toxic,” said the study’s principal investigator Chad Dickey, associate professor of molecular medicine at the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer‘s Institute.
Under normal circumstances, tau helps make up the skeleton of our brain cells.
The study was done using test tube experiments, mice genetically engineered to produce abnormal tau protein like that accumulated in the brains of people with Alzheimer‘s disease, and post-mortem human Alzheimer‘s brain tissue.
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.