AsianScientist (Jan. 24, 2019) – A research group in South Korea has discovered how inflammation inhibits autophagy—the process by which cells rid themselves of unwanted cellular contents—in immune cells of the brain. Their findings are published in the journal Autophagy.
Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60–80 percent of all dementia cases. Scientists know that Alzheimer’s disease is in part caused by the accumulation of harmful materials such as amyloid β in the brain. These harmful materials are removed by microglia—phagocytic immune cells that reside in the central nervous system and act as brain janitors.
In the present study, scientists led by Professor Yu Seong-Woon of Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea found that microglia with impaired autophagy are incapable of decomposing amyloid β, which leads to Alzheimer’s disease progression.
The researchers demonstrated that inflammation is a key inhibitor of autophagy in microglia. When inflammatory substances bind to molecules known as Toll-like receptors on the surface of microglia, a signaling pathway is triggered to inhibit autophagy. This is in contrast to other immune cells of the body, where inflammation activates autophagy.
“Although nerve inflammation always increases if one contracts a degenerative brain disease, the link between inflammation and suppression of autophagy in microglia was unclear prior to our study,” said Yu.
“If we focus on brain tissue cells and keep researching the relationship between nerve inflammation and autophagy, we will be able to take a step closer to developing treatments and new strategies for curing brain diseases.”
Source: Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology; Photo: Shutterstock.
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