WASHINGTON (Dispatches) -- According to University of Virginia researchers,
Cholesterol manufactured in the brain appears to play a key role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
The scientists found that cholesterol produced by cells called astrocytes is required for controlling the production of amyloid beta, a sticky protein that builds up in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s. The protein accumulates into insoluble plaques that are a hallmark of the disease. Many efforts have targeted these plaques in the hope that removing or preventing them could treat or prevent Alzheimer’s.
The new findings help us to understand why genes linked to cholesterol are so important to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The data point to the importance of focusing on the production of cholesterol in astrocytes and the transport to neurons as a way to reduce amyloid beta and prevent plaques from ever being formed.
While cholesterol is often associated with clogged arteries and heart disease, it plays important roles in the healthy body. The body makes cholesterol naturally so it can produce hormones and carry out other important functions.