A major breakthrough in blood vessels towards the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease

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A breakthrough in our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease has revealed changes to blood vessels in the brain, potentially paving the way for the development of new drugs to help fight the disease, according to research from the University of Manchester funded by the University of Manchester. British Heart Foundation (BHF) and published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)1.

Alzheimer’s disease is traditionally thought of as a disease of brain cells, where a protein called beta-amyloid (Aβ) builds up and forms plaques. There is growing evidence that the blood supply to the brain is also affected, but it is unclear how this happens.

Now researchers at the University of Manchester have discovered that a smaller version of the protein – called Amyloid-β 1-40 (Aβ 1-40) – builds up in the walls of small arteries and reduces blood flow towards the brain.

The surface of the brain is lined with small arteries, called pial arteries, which control the supply of blood and oxygen to the brain. If these arteries narrow for too long, the brain cannot get enough nutrients. This is one of the causes of memory loss seen in people with the disease.

When the team examined the pial arteries of aged mice with Alzheimer’s disease that produced too much Aβ1-40, they found that the arteries were narrower than those of healthy mice.

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