Research Update: May 2008

Posted August 20, 2009

Two papers, supported in part by Cure Alzheimer’s Fund,  have just been published in two leading research journals. The findings show links between certain kinds of anesthesia and pathological features of Alzheimer’s disease.

The research conducted by Dr. Rudy Tanzi, Chair of the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund Research Consortium, and his MGH colleagues are important for several reasons:

  1. Under certain circumstances, two commonly used anesthetics, isoflurane and desflurane, can stimulate increased production of the Abeta peptide, which can lead to neuronal cell death and Alzheimer’s pathology.

  2. Both anesthetics contribute to the production of not only more A-beta, but also more importantly to the aggregation of Abeta into neurotoxic configurations known as oligomers, which are under intensive study by several members of the Research Consortium.

  3. The researchers found that both processes could be mediated by certain drugs including clioquinol, which was found to be able to dissolve the Abeta oligomers, and the Alzheimer’s drug Namenda, which regulates calcium influx into neurons

These new findings have not only helped to further our understanding of how Abeta oligomers contribute to Alzheimer’s pathology, but also, “should facilitate the provision of safer anesthesia care, especially for Alzheimer’s disease and elderly patients,” according to the abstract for the article on Isoflurane appearing in the April 23 edition of The Journal of Neuroscience:

Links to abstracts or news releases for:

Isoflurane-induced Caspase-3 Activation Is Dependent on Cytosolic Calcium and can be Attenuated by Memantine, The Journal of Neuroscience, April 23, 2008

The Inhalation Anesthetic Desflurane Induced Caspase Activation and Increase Amyloid Beta Protein Levels Under Hypoxic Conditions, The Journal of Biological Chemistry Vol. 283, No.18, May 2, 2008.