Viruses and bacteria cause infections, and Alzheimer`s is neither viral nor bacterial. But Alzheimer`s appears to spread in the same manner that infections can do, said Claudio Soto, professor of neurology at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, according to the Texas Medical Center (TMC) news released on Wednesday.
The underlying mechanism of Alzheimer`s disease "involves a normal protein that becomes misshapen and is able to spread from nerve cell to nerve cell by transforming good proteins to bad ones, " said Soto. "The bad proteins accumulate in the brain, forming plaque deposits that are believed to kill neuron cells in Alzheimer`s."
To demonstrate a potentially infectious-like spreading of Alzheimer`s disease in lab animals, Soto and his fellow researchers injected mice with a small amount of brain tissue taken from a human with Alzheimer`s, then compared the results to mice injected with normal brain tissue. None of the mice injected with the normal brain tissue showed signs of Alzheimer`s, but all of those injected with Alzheimer`s brain extracts developed plaques and other brain alterations typical of the disease, according to Soto.
The mice injected with the Alzheimer`s brain tissue developed Alzheimer`s over time as the disease spread to other portions of the brain. The researchers believe that other brain diseases may progress the same way, including mad cow and its human form, Creutzfeldt- Jakob disease.(*)