January 7, 2009

Collagen type protects against Alzheimer’s

A type of collagen, collagen VI, protects brain cells against amyloid-beta proteins, widely thought to cause Alzheimer's disease, U.S. researchers said.

Study leader Dr. Lennart Mucke, director of the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease, and colleagues profiled changes in gene activity using DNA microarrays -- a technology -- which provides an unbiased method for identifying key biological pathways.

We first noticed the increase in collagen VI in the brain of Alzheimer's disease mouse models, which inspired us to look for it in the human condition and to define its role in the disease, Mucke said in a statement.

The analysis revealed a striking increase in collagen VI in the brains of mice that model Alzheimer's disease. Building on their initial finding, the team examined brain tissue from Alzheimer's disease patients and normal humans and found that collagen VI expression was also higher in the Alzheimer's disease patients.

These findings were really surprising and exciting to us because nobody knew anything about collagen VI in the brain, co-lead author Dr. Jason Cheng said.

The findings are published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.