Reelin Protein: Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment? An Article By Emma Henson

ImageResearchers from the Department of Cell Biology at the University of Barcelona published a study in Nature Connections, on ReelinThis protein is crucial to adult brain plasticity, and it has been found to recover cognitive functions in mice with Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s, a neurodegenerative disease characterized by cognitive defects, synaptic loss, and neuronal death, is mainly associated with the formation of amyloid-beta plaques and the presence of neurofibrillary tangles.  This new study demonstrates that an increase in Reelin brain levels helps avoid cognitive decline in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease.  Reelin also delays amyloid-beta fibril formation in vitro, and reduces amyloid deposits in mice.

Instead of focusing efforts on therapeutic targets directed toward a certain processes within Alzheimer’s, the scientists analyzed Reelin’s dual pathway that regulates the amyloid precursor protein and tau protein.  Though researchers previously understood that Reelin played a part in a double regulating pathway of both amyloid beta and tau protein, it was difficult to pinpoint its exact role.  The study sheds light on a new mechanism that allows understanding of the link between these two crucial parts of Alzheimer’s disease, and also proves that Reelin overexpression may be beneficial.


The study described how Reelin interacted in vitro to reduce the most toxic form of the peptide, Aβ42, which is responsible for fibril formation and the aggregation of senile plaques.  In vivo, the mouse model results showed that Reelin interacts with the toxic protein to delay fibril and plaque formation.  This method of approaching signaling pathways that control different features regarding brain plasticity and Alzheimer’s, allowed the team to highlight Reelin as a brain plasticity promoter and neuroprotective.

These researchers plan to have a system to identify chemical compounds to promote Reelin signaling in some months.



1. Lluís Pujadas, Daniela Rossi, Rosa Andrés, Cátia M. Teixeira, Bernat Serra-Vidal, Antoni Parcerisas, Rafael Maldonado, Ernest Giralt, Natàlia Carulla, Eduardo Soriano. Reelin delays amyloid-beta fibril formation and rescues cognitive deficits in a model of Alzheimer’s disease. Nature Communications, 2014; 5 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms4443

2. Universidad de Barcelona. (2014, March 6). Reelin protein rescues cognitive deficits in an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 7, 2014 from


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