Longevity Articles

New Mechanism Could Target Neurodegenerative Diseases

brain scan mri scan
  • The discovery of a mechanism that regulates brain inflammation may open up new treatment pathways for neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

  • A protein called TET2 modulates the immune response in microglia (immune cells in the brain) during inflammatory conditions.

  • Mice without the TET2 protein had a reduced neuroinflammatory response.

  • Neurodegenerative diseases are driven by neuroinflammation in the microglia.

This article was published on EurekAlert.org

Research led by Drs. Miguel Burguillos (University of Seville, Spain) and Miguel Branco (Queen Mary University of London, UK), has revealed new findings about mechanisms regulating brain inflammation which open a new pathway in the field of neuroinflammation. This is important because in neurodegenerative diseases such as ParkinsonĀ“s and AlzheimerĀ“s diseases, where there is no effective treatment yet, it is considered that microglia play a key role in their pathology and progression. Therefore, discovery of new mechanisms regulating microglial function could become new therapeutic targets to use in clinic. The findings are now published in the scientific journal Cell Reports.

The authors found that a protein called TET2 is responsible for modulating the immune response generated in the immune cells (named microglia) in the brain, under inflammatory conditions. The authors observe that in transgenic mice lacking TET2 specifically in microglia cells, the neuroinflammatory response is hampered in an neuroinflammatory model. Normally TET2, together with other proteins, regulates the activity of genes by removing certain chemical marks from DNA, but the authors found that this mechanism was not behind the role of TET2 in microglia.

"TET2 appears to act in microglia by a different mechanism to that seen in other cells that mediate inflammation outside of the brain", says Miguel Branco, a Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary University of London.

"We observe that microglia cells in a proinflammatory environment increase the expression of TET2, and this protein becomes a key regulator for many of the changes that leads to the full activation of these cells" says Miguel Burguillos, a RamĆ³n y Cajal Fellow at University of Seville.

Although this is an exploratory study, the new mechanism described in this paper opens a new route in the research of mechanisms governing microglia under disease conditions. Thus, TET2 could become a significant component for different neurodegenerative disease such as ParkinsonĀ“s disease and Alzheimer's disease where neuroinflammation driven by microglia contributes to their pathology.

This study appeared inĀ Cell Reports in October 2019.

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