Posted on Nov 30, 2015, 6 a.m.
Synaptic levels of NCAM2, a key protein, were lower in brains affected by Alzheimer’s
Scientists at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia studied brain protein called neural cell adhesion molecule 2 (NCAM2). NCAM2 is part of a family of molecules that connects synapse membranes, which connect neurons in the brain and are required for all brain functions, helping maintain the synaptic connections between neurons. The team discovered that synaptic levels of NCAM2 in the hippocampus were lower in individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease than in healthy individuals. The researchers also found that NCAM2 was broken down by beta-amyloid proteins, which are the abnormal clumps that build up in the brains of people with Alzheimer's. "We have identified a new molecular mechanism, which directly contributes to this synapse loss," says Dr. Sytnyk, "a discovery we hope could eventually lead to earlier diagnosis of the disease and new treatments." He adds: "Our research shows the loss of synapses is linked to the loss of NCAM2 as a result of the toxic effects of beta-amyloid. It opens up a new avenue for research on possible treatments that can prevent the destruction of NCAM2 in the brain."
The research is published in the journal Nature Communications.