High levels of stress-related protein may also fuel Alzheimer’s disease, researchers have found.

According to the findings of a new study, a stress-related protein, called FKBP51, genetically linked to depression, anxiety and other psychiatric disorders may also accelerate the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, found that when FKBP51 conjoins with another protein called Hsp90 it thwarts the clearance of tau, a toxic brain protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

The study
For the purpose of the study, researchers at the University of South Florida conducted test tube experiments on mice. These mice were genetically engineered to produce abnormal quantities of tau protein.

Post-mortem examinations of human brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease also revealed excessive accumulation of tau protein.

Levels of FKBP51 proteins increase with age in the brain, researchers reported. These increased levels of stress-related protein usurp Hsp90′s beneficial effect to promote tau toxicity, impairing brain cells involved in memory formation.

“We found that FKB51 commandeers Hsp90 to create an environment that prevents the removal of tau and makes it more toxic,” study’s lead researcher Chad Dickey, associate professor of molecular medicine at the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute, said.

“Basically, it uses Hsp90 to produce and preserve the bad tau,” Dickey said.

Researchers believe that developing drugs or procedures that impair FKB51’s interaction with Hsp90 may prove extremely effective in treating the tau pathology as marked in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease dementia and other disorders linked with memory loss.

The findings of the study are published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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