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How Brain Cells Die/Ray of Hope?
Posted: Monday, January 23, 2012 11:52 AM
Joined: 12/6/2011
Posts: 3326

(Source: Calgary Herald) - A new study by researchers at the University of Calgary's Hotchkiss Brain Institute is challenging the conventional thinking about how brain cells die in Alzheimer's, and may one day lead to effective treatment for the memory-ravaging condition.

Researchers Peter Stys and Gerald Zamponi have shown that brain cells of Alzheimer's patients are dying because of malfunctions in key receptors known as NMDA receptors, which are critical for memory and learning.

"We've shown that the NMDA receptor functions improperly when there is too much alpha beta (a protein) around the NMDA receptor," said Zamponi, head of the university's department of physiology and pharmacology. "So the key now is to find out how to reverse this, and find the right drug that regulates the NMDA receptor."

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Lane Simonian
Posted: Monday, January 23, 2012 2:09 PM
Joined: 12/12/2011
Posts: 5130

Thanks for all these posts, Myriam.  Namenda (memantine) is supposed to modulate the NMDA receptor, but it does not do so very effectively.  Free intracellular magnesium regulates this receptor, but due to the peroxynitrite mediated loss of free intracellular magnesium, there is an influx of calcium into cells and an efflux of glutamate out of cells both of which are deadly to neurons 


This is most likely the reason why a better delivery of magnesium to the brain (via magnesium threonate discussed on another post) may help in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.


In addition, a lack of intracellular copper has recently been implicated as one of the causes of NMDA receptor dysfunction (I just realized that this is the same study you cited).  Copper, however, is entombed in amyloid plaques.  This may be another reason why metal chelators, such as PBT2 (also discussed on another post)  may be useful in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.