In a recent article discussing the findings of Korean researchers into the use of new drugs targeting Alzheimer’s disease, Lauren Horne discusses how the team may have discovered new information in the fight against the development of the disease. The study, titled “GABA from reactive astrocytes impairs memory in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease”, is the work of Drs. Daesoo Kim and C. Justin Lee and was published in June of 2014 in the medical journal “Nature Medicine”. The article highlights how the neurotransmitter inhibitor GABA when released in higher dosages through the BESt1 channel has been shown to negatively affect the functioning of synaptic transmission, as well as plasticity, and memory. The research delves into the role that reactive astrocytes play in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, and possibly how it can be treated in the future.
According to the description of the study by Horne, the team in Korea began conducting their tests after discovering that there were large quantities of reactive astrocytes found in the brains of mice who had Alzheimer’s disease. In the course of their research, they found that the reactive astrocytes were creating the GABA transmitters through the enzyme Monoamine oxidase B(MAO-B). When the GABA transmitters were being released through the Bestrophin-1 channel, it was discovered that they were having a suppressive effect on the flow of normal information at the time of synaptic transmission.
In an attempt to reverse the effects of the B(MAO-B) that was being produced by the reactive astrocytes, the researchers utilized B(MAO-B) inhibitors to help return the levels to normal. This result of these changes was made clear in testing performed on mice with Alzheimer’s disease when their memory showed signs of improvement following the treatment. However, the benefits of the treatment using Selegiline as the inhibitor agent were not long lasting. While it has been shown to have positive results in treating Parkinson’s disease, it is unlikely that it will be use long term in treating Alzheimer’s disease.
While this study is only a preliminary entry into this avenue of research, I suspect that it holds great potential for further courses of study into finding a cure to Alzheimer’s disease.