quinta-feira, 30 de junho de 2011

How chronic stress causes Alzheimer

Chronic stress has long been linked with neurodegeneration. Scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) have now found a mechanism: chronic stress (physical or mental) causes overexpression of the RCAN1 gene, in turn leading to neurodegenerative disease. Read more at http://goo.gl/LlYvc. The mechanism involves these steps:
  1. Chronic overproduction of RCAN1 causes hyperphosphorylation of tau proteins in the brain. (In a healthy person, the RCAN1 gene helps cells cope with stress).
  2. Tau proteins stabilize microtubules, which are like scaffolding, used to build the brain’s neurons. Previous research has shown that when the tau protein binds too much phosphate (a process called hyperphosphorylation), it forms snarls that prevent the brain’s signals from effectively traveling. 
  3. These neurofibrillary tangles eventually choke the life out of neurons, killing off brain function a tiny piece at a time in what is outwardly recognized as degenerative brain disease. 
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