Hyperactive immune cells that engulf dying and injured cells before they have a chance to recover may contribute to neurodegeneration characteristic of some diseases, posing a previously unreported mechanism for dementia, a linkurl:paper;http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2011/02/23/1100650108.abstract from the __Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences__ reports today (February 28).
Human brain with frontal lobe degeneration
Image: WikiCommons/Talgraf777
"This is a very exciting and credible piece of work," said linkurl:John Hardy,;http://www.ucl.ac.uk/neuroscience/Page.php?ID=12&ResearcherID=173 a neuroscientist at University College London who was not involved in the study. "This paper offers a credible link to the precise mechanism of [certain kinds neurodegenerative] disease."Most neurodegenerative diseases are thought to be caused by the toxic accumulation of insoluble protein aggregates in the brain, which is toxic to cells. Additionally, defects in the pathway regulating apoptosis (programmed cell death) have been proposed as a mechanism of neurodegeneration. Defects in mitochondria, for example, have been shown to increase apoptosis in neurons, resulting...
Caenorhabditis elegansA.W. Kao et al., "A neurodegenerative disease mutation that accelerates the clearance of apoptotic cells," PNAS doi:10.1073/pnas.1100650108, 2011

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