Research finds link between brain barrier leaks and Alzheimer’s

Oct. 4, 2021

An Australian research group at Curtin University has found what they believe to be a likely cause of Alzheimer’s disease: Blood leakage in the brain.

According to a news release from the university, lead investigator John Mamo, (CHIRI) Director of Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute the team identified what they believe is likely the  ‘blood-to-brain pathway’ that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease, the most prevalent form of dementia, globally, and the second leading cause of death in Australia.

A hallmark feature of people living with Alzheimer’s disease was previously found to be the progressive accumulation of toxic protein deposits within the brain called beta-amyloid.

“Researchers did not know where the amyloid originated from, or why it deposited in the brain,” Professor Mamo said.

“Our research shows that these toxic protein deposits that form in the brains of people living with Alzheimer’s disease most likely leak into the brain from fat carrying particles in blood, called lipoproteins,” Mamo said. “If we can manage the levels in blood of lipoprotein-amyloid and prevent their leakage into the brain, this opens up potential new treatments to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and slow memory loss.”

Building on previous research findings that indicated that beta-amyloid is made outside the brain with lipoproteins, Professor Mamo’s team tested the ‘blood-to-brain pathway’ by genetically engineering mouse models to produce human amyloid-only liver that make lipoproteins.

“As we predicted, the study found that mouse models producing lipoprotein-amyloid in the liver suffered inflammation in the brain, accelerated brain cell death and memory loss,” Mamo said.

Further studies are necessary for findings to be conclusive, Mamo noted. But these initial findings have shown, “the abundance of these toxic protein deposits in the blood could potentially be addressed through a person’s diet, and some drugs that could specifically target lipoprotein amyloid, therefore reducing their risk or slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” Mamo said.

Curtin University release