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Cell Energy Dysfunction Is Present Early In Alzheimer's, Before Memory Loss

BrightFocus-Funded Research May Lead To Future Detection Methods, Treatments

March 5, 2012

Healthy Mitochondria

Image courtesy of the National Institute on Aging/National Institutes of Health

Findings: BrightFocus-funded researchers discovered that mitochondria—the energy powerhouses of cells—are dysfunctional in the brain early in Alzheimer's disease, long before symptoms of dementia appear. Using three types of mice engineered to have early-onset Alzheimer's disease, Dr. Eugenia Trushina, co-investigator Dr. Joseph Poduslo, and colleagues determined the chemical “fingerprints” of metabolism in the nerve cells—that is, they compared the levels of sugars, fats, proteins, etc., to the levels found in healthy mice. They found that the mitochondria in Alzheimer's brains were not functioning properly and tended to lose their integrity, even before the disease symptoms had started to show. In addition, they determined that the diseased mitochondria were present at the connection points between the nerve cells involved in maintaining memory.

Significance: This BrightFocus-funded research provides more clues on what goes wrong inside of the brain at very early stages of Alzheimer's disease. The next step will be to look for the same mitochondrial “fingerprints” in humans, to aid in early detection and opportunities for treatment before the disease progresses. In addition, this research will help with the design of future drugs to restore the brain cells' energy balance.

View all news updates for Alzheimer's disease

Disclaimer: The information provided in this section is a public service of the BrightFocus Foundation, and should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional, and is not intended to constitute medical advice. Although we take efforts to keep the medical information on our website updated, we cannot guarantee that the information on our website reflects the most up-to-date research. Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice; all medications and supplements should only be taken under medical supervision. BrightFocus Foundation does not endorse any medical product or therapy.

Some of the content in this section is adapted from other sources, which are clearly identified within each individual item of information.

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