Animal Model Mimics Earliest Stages of Alzheimer’s in Humans
A new research model using adult rhesus monkeys mimics some of the earliest abnormalities of Alzheimer’s disease and could pave the way for a better understanding of how the disease begins in humans, according to research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Developed by scientists at the California National Primate Research Center of the University of California, Davis, this preliminary model provides a potential alternative to those that have not translated well to human clinical studies. Most mouse models are based on single-gene mutations associated with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. In this study, researchers sought to create a model of the more common sporadic Alzheimer’s and to study how protein fragments affect the prefrontal cortex, which functions similarly in humans.
Researchers focused on impairment to synapses through which electrical or chemical signals pass, allowing neurons to communicate. Keeping synapses in good working order could be the key to preventing neuronal death, inflammation, and other Alzheimer’s-related brain damage that lead to age-related cognitive decline and dementia.
The study showed that rhesus monkeys may be a good model for studying the early synaptic dysfunction of Alzheimer’s disease, the authors concluded. Further research could determine if the model is useful for studying tau, another harmful protein in Alzheimer’s, and for exploring the mechanism underlying oligomer accumulation in Alzheimer’s.
To learn more, see Beckman, D. et al. (2019). Oligomeric Aβ in the monkey brain impacts synaptic integrity and induces accelerated cortical aging. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(52), 26239-26246. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1902301116