US researchers say an enzyme that helps form the amyloid-beta protein associated with Alzheimer's disease may also be responsible for seizures that often accompany the condition. Drugs that target this enzyme, which is called beta-secretase (BACE), might cut the attacks, say a team at the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disorders, Boston.
Reporting Sunday in the online edition of the journal Nature Cell Biology, the team say that BACE - one of two enzymes that snip off and create amyloid-beta - also influence the function of sodium channels on the surface of brain cells. These channels are crucial to the transmission of signals in nerve cells, and sodium channel disruptions are known to be strongly linked to seizures.
In their studies using brain tissue from animal models and Alzheimer's patients, the MassGeneral team found that Alzheimer's-linked BACE does, in fact, help disrupt sodium channel function.
"Our study suggests that the BACE inhibitors currently being developed to reduce amyloid-beta generation in Alzheimer's disease patients may also help prevent seizures by alleviating disrupted neural activity," lead researcher Dora Kovacs, director of the institute's Neurobiology of Disease Laboratory in the Genetics and Ageing Research Unit, said in a prepared statement. – (HealthDayNews)