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Dr. Tsuneya Ikezu, MD, PhD, and colleagues from Boston University School of Medicine identify the role of Microglia in early AD progression in “Depletion of microglia and inhibition of exosome synthesis halt tau propagation” published in Nature Neuroscience on October 5, 2015.

For the first time, researchers have determined how toxic tau fibrils spread by the help of brain immune cells called microglia during the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

The gradual decline in cognitive function and loss of neurons in patients with AD is preceded by the harmful build-up of the protein tau in the brain. Tau accumulates as tiny fibers called fibrils in brain regions that are critical for learning and memory. But how they spread during the early stage of AD was previously unknown.

“This study found that tau can be carried from one neuron to another by the brain’s own immune cells in a process that may contribute to the progression of AD,” explained corresponding author Tsuneya Ikezu.

The discovery of this new pathway may lead to a new therapeutic target for AD.

This research was funded in part by a grant from The CART Fund. The CART Fund contributes to the prevention and cure of Alzheimer’s Disease through seed-money grants for Alzheimer’s research. One-hundred percent of every dollar donated to The CART Fund goes to Alzheimer’s research. The CART Fund is a 501(c)(3) organization.