To view an abstract, select an author from the vertical list on the left.
2011 Grants - Bacskai
Understanding the Selective Vulnerability of Neurons in Alzheimer's Disease
Brian J. Bacskai, Ph.D.
Massachusetts General Hospital
2011 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
In the brains of persons with Alzheimer's disease, certain types of nerve cells are known to be especially vulnerable to cell death. In some instances at least, nerve cell death is triggered by amyloid plaques, one of the characteristic features of Alzheimer's pathology. Scientists have been studying why certain nerve cells are more vulnerable than others for many years, but the cause of selective vulnerability is still not well understood.
Dr. Brian J. Bacskai, Ph.D. and colleagues have observed that abnormally high levels of calcium occur inside some nerve cells when they are exposed to amyloid plaques, one of the characteristic features of Alzheimer's pathology. Abnormally high calcium levels can be a sign of impending cell death, so Dr. Bacskai's team is using calcium levels to identify and study nerve cells that are especially vulnerable to the toxic effects of amyloid.
Dr. Bacskai and colleagues plan to characterize the properties of vulnerable nerve cells and study the biochemical pathways that make these cells vulnerable. They will then use this knowledge to devise potential treatments to reduce the vulnerability of these cells to amyloid. These studies may help to identify new pathways and potential treatments to slow or prevent nerve cell damage in Alzheimer's disease.