Elevated activity in the hippocampus — the area of the brain that controls learning and memory — is linked with mild cognitive impairment and early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers have now discovered the molecular mechanism that may trigger an enhancement of neuronal activity in Alzheimer’s patients, which subsequently damages memory and learning functions.
The amyloid precursor protein (APP), in addition to its well-known role in producing a protein fragment known as amyloid-beta, also constitutes the receptor for amyloid-beta.
The binding of amyloid-beta to pairs of APP molecules triggers a signalling cascade, which causes elevated neuronal activity, the study said.
“Our work suggests that APP molecules, like many other known cell surface receptors, may modulate the transfer of information between neurons,” said Inna Slutsky from Tel Aviv University in Israel.