3D Model of Alzheimers Shows Roll of Blood-Brain Barrier in Disease Progression

GEN | August 13, 2019

MIT engineers have developed a tissue model that mimics beta-amyloids effects on the blood-brain barrier. Beta-amyloid plaques the protein aggregates that form in the brains of Alzheimers patients disrupt many brain functions and can kill neurons. They can also damage the blood-brain barrier BBB, the normally tight border that prevents harmful molecules in the bloodstream from entering the brain. The new study showed that this damage can lead molecules such as thrombin, a clotting factor normally found in the bloodstream, to enter the brain and cause additional damage to Alzheimers neurons. Findings from the new study were published yesterday in Advanced Science through an article titled “Blood–Brain Barrier Dysfunction in a 3D In Vitro Model of Alzheimer’s Disease.” “We were able to show clearly in this model that the amyloid-beta secreted by Alzheimer’s disease cells can actually impair barrier function, and once that is impaired, factors are secreted into the brain tissue that can have adverse effects on neuron health,” explained co-senior study investigator Roger Kamm, PhD, professor of mechanical and biological engineering at MIT. Interestingly, the research team also used the tissue model to show that a drug, which restores the blood-brain barrier, can slow down the cell death seen in Alzheimer’s neurons.

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