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2010 Grants - Xiong
Acid-Sensing Ion Channels as Novel Target for Alzheimer's Disease
Zhigang Xiong, Ph.D.
Morehouse School of Medicine
2010 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
Much research into the causes of Alzheimer's disease focuses on the protein fragment beta-amyloid. Beta-amyloid is known to cause dysfunction of synaptic transmission, the process by which nerve cells send rapid signals throughout the brain. This effect of beta-amyloid may explain the loss of cognitive function and memory that afflicts persons with Alzheimer's disease. However, the mechanisms by which beta-amyloid causes synaptic dysfunction are not understood.
Zhigang Xiong, Ph.D., and colleagues are studying the mechanisms by which beta-amyloid causes synaptic dysfunction, focusing on an ion channel in the membrane of nerve cells known as the acid-sensing ion channel. These channels are thought to play important roles in learning and memory, as well as the response of nerve cells to injury. Dr. Xiong and colleagues have obtained preliminary evidence that acid-sensing ion channels are inhibited by beta-amyloid. They plan to confirm and extend these results by performing detailed studies of how beta-amyloid affects the activity of these channels. The team will also examine whether these effects of beta-amyloid could explain its detrimental effects on synaptic function and on learning and memory. These studies will explore an important question about the mechanisms of beta-amyloid toxicity, and they may reveal new targets for drug action in Alzheimer's disease.