Compared to the control (A), the retina (B) treated with an alzheimer's drug has significantly fewer dying nerve cells (white spots). Picture: Guo and Cordeiro
Read out Green Star, also called glaucoma, is in principle nothing else than Alzheimer's eye: In both cases, the same protein fragments, called Abeta proteins, contribute to nerve cells dying, an international research team has discovered. In the brain, does this cause dementia typical of Alzheimer's while the death of the optic nerve in the eye permanently leads to irreversible blindness? a process for which only an elevated intraocular pressure was previously blamed. The now discovered link between the Abeta fragments and the eye disease does not mean that Glaukompatienten also get Alzheimer's. However, it opens up new opportunities to treat eye disease, the researchers report. Initial tests in the laboratory and in rats have already been very successful. Doubts about the theory, the increased pressure inside the eye caused circulatory disturbances in the optic nerve and kill it so slowly, there was, according to the researchers for some time. For example, there have been many reports of patients whose optic nerve damage progressed despite normal intraocular pressure. In addition, physicians in Alzheimer's disease patients had repeatedly observed symptoms similar to those of glaucoma, such as visual field obstruction and the typical damage to optic nerve cells. Especially the latter suggested a similarity between the causes of Alzheimer's disease and the development of eye disease, explain the scientists.

For this reason, they examined the optic nerves of rats, in which the pressure in the eye had been artificially increased. After a short time, the typical retina of the animals formed the typical Abeta fragments, mainly in the nerve cells, which had already initiated a suicide program, the analysis showed. If the rats were also dripping the protein fragments into the healthy eye, the nerve cells began to die there a little later. On the other hand, did the scientists block the formation of Abeta proteins, did the proportion of dying nerve cells also decrease? a finding that confirms a direct relationship between Abeta fragments and eye disease.

The scientists hope to be able to develop new, pressure-independent treatment approaches for glaucoma based on this discovery. They are particularly encouraged by the observation that a combination of three novel drugs against Alzheimer's has achieved the best results. This may also be a new treatment strategy for Alzheimer's found, which has never been used, comments study director Francesca Cordeiro.

Francesca Cordeiro (University College London) et al .: PNAS, Online Pre-Release, DOI: 10.1073 / pnas.0703707104 ddp / Ilka Lehnen-Beyel advertisement


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