How does nerve cell communication change in the early stages of Alzheimer’s?
Jayeeta Basu, Ph.D.
New York University Grossman School of Medicine
New York, NY - United States
Nerve cells in the brain communicate with each other via nerve cell networks or circuits that connect multiple brain regions. These networks control many cognitive functions, including learning and memory. Studies suggest that brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s may begin years before symptoms may appear. Some researchers have suggested that impaired communication between nerve cell networks may be one of the early changes in Alzheimer’s that may be associated with loss of memory. Understanding certain patterns and changes in these brain networks may help predict Alzheimer’s-related brain changes, and open new avenues for earlier and more accurate detection and diagnosis.
Dr. Jayeeta Basu and colleagues will focus on a specific region of the brain called the lateral entorhinal cortex (LEC) where the early brain changes occur in Alzheimer’s. This region communicates with the hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for learning and memory, via a specific nerve cell pathway called the LEC-CA1 circuit pathway.
The researchers will first use sophisticated imaging techniques to identify the nerve cells and map the LEC-CA1 circuit pathway in genetically engineered Alzheimer’s-like mice while the mice perform cognitive tasks. Next, the team will investigate whether stimulating this pathway can rescue the cognitive impairments seen in these mice. Lastly, the researchers will identify the specific type of cells in the LEC-CA1 pathway that are impacted in Alzheimer’s.
If successful, the results of this study may lead to a better understanding of the nerve cell communication changes that occur during the early stages of Alzheimer’s. These findings may also lead to new research tools for early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
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