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2011 Grants - Bhaskar
Role of Tau Protein in the Inflammation-Mediated Neurotoxicity
Kiran Bhaskar, Ph.D.
Cleveland Clinic Foundation
2011 New Investigator Research Grant
Alzheimer's disease is accompanied by inflammation in the brain, but the causes of inflammation and its role in the disease process are not well understood. Tau is a protein present in healthy brain cells that can become abnormally modified, causing it to form neurofibrillary tangles, one of the characteristic features of Alzheimer's pathology.
Kiran Bhaskar, Ph.D. and colleagues are studying the relationships between abnormal tau, neurofibrillary tangles and brain inflammation in the development of Alzheimer's pathology. They have found preliminary evidence that these processes may be mediated by non-nerve cells in the brain known as microglia, activated by a receptor known as the CX3CR1 receptor. It is not yet known, however, whether abnormal modification of the tau protein precedes or follows the actions of microglia.
Dr. Bhaskar and colleagues have proposed to study the role of microglia in the development of brain inflammation and abnormal tau. These studies will involve manipulating the CX3CR1 receptor of micoglia to control activation of these cells. The researchers also plan to study the role of abnormal tau in the development of inflammation and neurodegeneration. These studies will shed light on the relationships between various aspects of Alzheimer's pathology.