Scientists Find Brain Cell Suicide May Be Alzheimer's Culprit
Scientists at the University of Florida may have gained a significant insight into understanding what causes some brain cells to die, triggering these diseases, while others cells remain alive. The studies, performed on mice examined two neighboring regions in the hippocampus; an anatomical region shaped something like a curved kidney bean. The region is thought to be central to the formation of memories, and is one of the first regions affected by brain blood flow problems or Alzheimer’s.
What researchers discovered was that the higher susceptibility to cell death in part of the hippocampus versus the other region was due to the enzyme PHLPP, pronounced “flip”, silences the transcription of a gene that produces a critical protein to cell survival, AKT. AKT inhibits many causes of cell death. The inactivation in essence, amounts to the cell flipping its own kill switch.