Iron dysregulation found in Alzheimer’s brains

Findings coincide with efforts by others to treat Alzheimer's disease with iron-modifying drugs
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Reprinted with the kind permission of Life Extension.

June 25 2018. An article that appeared on April 24, 2018 in Nanoscale announced the discovery of abnormal iron compounds in the amyloid protein plaques that characterize the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.

“Iron dysregulation has been implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, an age-related neurodegenerative condition which is the most common cause of dementia amongst the elderly,” write James Everett of Keele University and colleagues. “Evidence of significant cell damage, in conjunction with markers of oxidative stress, has resulted in oxidative damage being investigated as a major effector of neurodegeneration. Increased levels of material incorporating ferrous iron, potentially capable of catalysing redox chemistry have been reported postmortem in Alzheimer’s disease subjects compared to age-matched disease-free controls. It is therefore possible that increased redox-active iron loading in Alzheimer’s disease provides a source of oxidative stress.”

In amyloid plaque derived from the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients, the researchers identified chemically reduced iron species that included a magnetic iron oxide known as magnetite that is not normally found in the human brain. The compounds have the potential to form during interactions between iron and amyloid protein.

“Iron is an essential element in the brain, so it is critical to understand how its management is affected in Alzheimer’s disease,” noted coauthor Joanna Collingwood, who is an associate professor at the University of Warwick’s School of Engineering and an expert in trace metals analysis. “The advanced x-ray techniques that we used in this study have delivered a step-change in the level of information that we can obtain about iron chemistry in the amyloid plaques. We are excited to have these new insights into how amyloid plaque formation influences iron chemistry in the human brain, as our findings coincide with efforts by others to treat Alzheimer’s disease with iron-modifying drugs.”

—D Dye

 

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