Washington: Researchers have created a molecule that has the potential to lower diabetic patients' higher risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
The research group led by Prof. Daphne Atlas, of the Department of Biological Chemistry in the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences at the Hebrew University, experimented with diabetic rats to examine the mechanism of action that may be responsible for changes in the brain due to high sugar levels.
The researchers found that diabetic rats displayed high activity of enzymes called MAPK kinases, which are involved in facilitating cellular responses to a variety of stimuli, leading to inflammatory activity in brain cells and the early death of cells.
Using the diabetic rat model, they explored a novel approach that would lower the activation of these enzymes in the brain, and decrease neuronal cell death. In the last few years, Prof. Atlas developed a series of molecules that mimic the action of thioredoxin called thioredoxin-mimetic peptides (TXM), whose role is to protect the cells from early death through activating inflammatory pathways.
The TXM peptides were effective in different animal models and were able to prevent the activation of the damaging MAPK kinases. Applied to the diabetic Zucker rats, one of the molecules, TXM-CB3, significantly reduced the activity of these enzymes, and lowered the accelerated brain cell death.
These results indicate that the molecule managed to cross the blood-brain barrier and improve the condition of the brain cells, through lowering the inflammatory processes in the rats' brains, despite the high glucose levels afflicting the rats.
The study has been published in the journal Redox Biology.