Like many neurological pathologies, Alzheimer’s disease finds its origin in a molecular dysfunction. A clue that was recently explored by American scientists * to explain the reasons why women seem more fragile to this disease, which is also placed first – in terms of occurrence – of neurodegenerative disorders.
Slow connections in the brain
How did they proceed? By observing 40 brain samples taken from patients, half of whom died of Alzheimer’s disease and the other half of other causes. Each group was then divided by gender, women on one side and men on the other.
And what did they find? ” A difference in the activity of a protein called C3, whose expression is much more inflammatory in women than in men. Its concentration is thus 6 times higher in women than in men. “says Professor Stuart Lipton, lead author of the study.
And this C3 protein is precisely involved in many contexts in the brain. This would explain the slowing down of the processes of reflection, memorization or even the loss of spatial and temporal landmarks and motor difficulties.
Another common explanation put forward by the researchers: the effects associated with the drop in estrogen, a characteristic phenomenon of menopause, on the state of brain health. Before menopause, these estrogens play an anti-inflammatory role for this C3 protein.
Understand the mechanism for better care
This research is significant when in most cases ” Alzheimer’s disease is fatal ten years after the onset of the first symptoms, and that to date there is no treatment to stop the progression of neurodegeneration, let alone reverse it “, continues Professor Lipton. ” If treatments struggle to be developed, it is partly because we still know too little about how the disease works. »
In the future, Professor Lipton’s team intends to go further by testing the reactivation of this C3 protein in an animal model in the hope of identifying a possible improvement in symptoms or even a brake on the progression of the disease.
* Scripps Research and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).