Scientists Uncover Mechanism Behind Neuron Death in Alzheimer’s Disease

Scientists Uncover Mechanism Behind Neuron Death in Alzheimer’s Disease

Researchers have made a groundbreaking discovery in understanding the mysterious process of neuron death in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). They have found that neurons undergo a form of programmed cell death, known as necroptosis, when exposed to amyloid plaques and tau tangles, hallmark proteins associated with AD. This research identifies a specific RNA gene, called MEG3, that plays a crucial role in this process.

The study, conducted by a research team led by Professor Bart De Strooper at VIB-KU Leuven and the UK Dementia Research Institute at UCL, sheds light on the mechanisms underlying neuron loss in AD. The team observed that human neurons exposed to amyloid plaques and tau tangles displayed characteristics of AD, including significant neural cell loss and the presence of tau tangles. In contrast, mouse neurons did not exhibit these features, suggesting that there are human-specific factors involved in the disease.

Importantly, the researchers were able to prevent the death of neurons by intervening in the necroptosis pathway. This discovery opens up new avenues for potential future treatments targeting AD.

This study is a significant step forward in our understanding of AD and provides valuable insights into the complex mechanisms behind this devastating disease. The RNA gene MEG3 and the process of necroptosis have been identified as important players in neuronal loss in AD. Further research is needed to investigate how exactly MEG3 triggers necroptosis. Nonetheless, this finding paves the way for the development of therapies that target not only amyloid plaques and tau tangles but also the necroptosis pathway.

This research was published in the prestigious journal Science and has significant implications for the field of AD research. It provides a new model for studying the disease by implanting human neurons into AD mouse models. This model more accurately replicates the features of AD, including neuronal cell loss and the presence of tau tangles.

Understanding the underlying mechanisms of AD is an ongoing challenge, and this study represents a breakthrough in connecting the hallmarks of the disease, such as amyloid plaques, tau tangles, and neuron death. By uncovering the role of MEG3 and necroptosis in AD, researchers are now better equipped to explore potential therapeutic approaches for the disease.

Source: Medical Research Council

• Necroptosis: A form of programmed cell death.
• Amyloid plaques: Abnormal clumps of protein that build up between neurons in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
• Tau tangles: Abnormal aggregates of tau protein that accumulate within neurons in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
• RNA gene: A gene that produces RNA molecules rather than proteins.
• MEG3: A specific RNA gene identified as a key player in the neuron death mechanism in Alzheimer’s disease.

• Medical Research Council (
• Science (journal)

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