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Going Beneath the Fold

FEATUREProtein Misfolding Transmission Electron Micrograph of Protein Filaments in Alzheimer's DiseaseCOURTESY OF HUNTINGTON POTTERHow an apolipoprotein E isoform wreaks havoc in the brain, and what we might be able to do about itBY ROBERT MAHLEY AND YADONG HUANGFor much of the 20th century, scientists have looked at brain cells from patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), Huntington's disease, and other neurodeg

Robert Mahley and Yadong Huang
FEATURE
Protein Misfolding
Going Beneath the Fold
Transmission Electron Micrograph of Protein Filaments
in Alzheimer's Disease

COURTESY OF HUNTINGTON POTTER

How an apolipoprotein E isoform wreaks havoc in the brain, and what we might be able to do about it

BY ROBERT MAHLEY
AND YADONG HUANG

For much of the 20th century, scientists have looked at brain cells from patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), Huntington's disease, and other neurodegenerative diseases and found clumps of material that are largely absent in the brains of nondemented people. The perfectly logical conclusion was that the aggregates were related to the disease process.

Through its lipid-transport functions, apoE is important in repairing and remodeling neurons. Only the liver produces more of it.

The picture is much more complicated than that, however. Various research lines have suggested that protein aggregates may result in deleterious inflammatory responses or that they arise as a response to malfunctioning cell machinery at the...

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