Dr. Kitazawa accepts Alzheimer’s Association funding for his study at UC Merced.
The Alzheimer’s Association had the pleasure of presenting a new investigator research check to Masashi Kitazawa, Ph.D. at the University of California, Merced. Alzheimer’s Association New Investigator grans fund the next generation of promising scientists who have earned their doctoral degrees within the last 10 years. We had a lot of support from our Walk to End Alzheimer’s volunteers in Fresno and Modesto, who made the drive to Merced to learn more about Dr. Kitazawa’s exciting area of research.
The grant will fund his study Neuroinflammation-Induced Alterations of GLT-1 and Synaptotoxicity in Alzheimer’s Disease. So what exactly does that mean?
First, some background: Astrocytes are “helper” cells in the brain that play a variety of roles. For example, they help support the function of neurons by providing energy to these cells. Recent studies have found that astrocytes may also prevent a toxic process called excitotoxicity in synapses—the tiny channels through which brain cells communicate with one another. Excitotoxicity occurs when synapses become overstimulated, and it can lead to brain cell dysfunction and death in Alzheimer’s disease. This toxic overstimulation may begin early in the disease process, and it may result from astrocytes becoming dysfunctional. Specifically, astrocytes may lose their ability to transport a neurotransmitter (or chemical messenger) called glutamate. This, in turn, may lead to abnormal glutamate concentration around synapses, which may cause synaptic loss and brain cell death.
What Dr. Kitasawa has found so far: In preliminary studies, Dr. Kitazawa and colleagues have found that Alzheimer’s mice age or their dementia progresses, they show reduced levels a protein called glutamate transporter-1 (GLT-1). Astrocytes need this protein to remove excess glutamate in the brain. The team also found that they could moderate GLT-1 losses by blocking the activities of another protein called interleukin-1. In a related experiment with cultured cells, the researchers observed that beta-amyloid—a protein fragment implicated in Alzheimer’s—could repress GLT-1 expression in neurons. These findings suggest that as brain beta-amyloid proliferates in early Alzheimer’s disease, it can help induce astroglial dysfunction and excitotoxicity.
For the funded study: Dr. Kitazawa’s team will use cultured neurons to identify mechanisms underlying the role of beta-amyloid and interleukin-1 in repressing GLT-1 activity. They will also examine how therapies designed to prevent the loss of GLT-1 may protect synapses and neurons in Alzheimer’s-like mice. Results of this effort could shed new light on the consequences of astrocyte dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease.
What a difference a year has made in our journey with Alzheimer’s.
At this time last year, John was able to care for himself. He could make lunch, walk the dog and do a load of laundry. Today, a mere 12 months later, he is in daycare four days a week and is never left alone.
During the summer, the logistics of our house were ever changing: I was home recuperating from knee replacement surgery. Our grandson had taken a brief vacation, but was back to attend summer school. My mother was our house guest while her home was being retrofitted to handle her decreased mobility. It seemed if there was a flat surface, someone was sleeping on it. Continue reading “What a difference a year makes!” »
A year ago, just before Christmas, my mother succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease. Her death ended a 15-year ordeal for herself and her family. As I grieved for her in the months that followed, I struggled to make sense of what we’d been through.
Research: 2012 Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures. This video is a summary of the most important Alzheimer’s stats everyone should know.
Caregiver Tips: Dan. Dan shares his tips for how to cope with living alone after decades of marriage.
Early Stage Thanks: Why I’m grateful for my caregiver. People with Alzheimer’s thank their caregivers for all things great and small.
Walk to End Alzheimer’s: Why I Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Participants of our San Jose Walk to End Alzheimer’s share the reasons behind why they have taken on the Alzheimer’s cause.
Volunteer Appreciation Week: Eleanore – Office Volunteer Extraordinaire. We highlighted several volunteers during National Volunteer Appreciation Week, including Eleanore, who has as much fun working as she does goofing off!
To eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.
Through this website you are able to link to other websites which are not under the control of the Alzheimer’s Association. We have no control over the nature, content and availability of those sites. The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.
Chapter Headquarters Alzheimer's Association of Northern California and Northern Nevada 1060 La Avenida, Mountain View, CA 94043 Phone 650.962.8111