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Unique Structure of Brain Blood Vessel Amyloid Latest Clue to Alzheimer’s Development?

vascular amyloid

Image of a cerebral blood vessel shown in red. The green deposits on this cerebral blood vessel are the vascular amyloid. The amyloid fibrils that comprise these deposits exhibit the newly found signature that is unique to vascular amyloid. 

Stony Brook, NY – November 21, 2016 – Accumulating amounts of amyloid, which is a fragment of a larger protein, in the brain have been associated with the development of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Now a team of neuroscience and biochemistry researchers at Stony Brook University have made a novel discovery that illustrates for the first time the difference between amyloid buildup in brain blood vessels and amyloid buildup around brain neurons. Their findings, which may provide a new path to research on Alzheimer’s disease and its cause, will be published November 21 in Nature Communications.

Lead investigator William Van Nostrand, PhD, a Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery, says the findings stem from collaborative work with Steven Smith, PhD, a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Cell Biology. They, along with colleagues, mapped out the structural signature of amyloid that accumulates in brain blood vessels and compared it to the known structure of amyloid that accumulate in plaque around brain neurons.

The team found that the subunits of the amyloid that accumulates in vessels line up uniquely and in alternating patterns, which presents in a near opposite pattern of amyloid buildup in plaque around neurons.

“This discovery may help guide us to the development of a new diagnostic tool or therapeutic intervention for dementia patients who display this vessel pathology,” summarized Dr. Van Nostrand. 

They hypothesize that the unique structure of this brain blood vessel amyloid could promote different pathological responses, ie, inflammation, which likely contributes differently to cognitive impairment and dementia than neuron amyloid. 

 

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About Stony Brook University

Part of the State University of New York system, Stony Brook University encompasses 200 buildings on 1,450 acres. Since welcoming its first incoming class in 1957, the University has grown tremendously, now with more than 25,000 students and 2,500 faculty. Its membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. U.S. News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 100 universities in the nation and top 40 public universities, and Kiplinger names it one of the 35 best values in public colleges. One of four University Center campuses in the SUNY system, Stony Brook co-manages Brookhaven National Laboratory, putting it in an elite group of universities that run federal research and development laboratories. A global ranking by U.S. News & World Report places Stony Brook in the top 1 percent of institutions worldwide.  It is one of only 10 universities nationwide recognized by the National Science Foundation for combining research with undergraduate education. As the largest single-site employer on Long Island, Stony Brook is a driving force of the regional economy, with an annual economic impact of $4.65 billion, generating nearly 60,000 jobs, and accounts for nearly 4 percent of all economic activity in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and roughly 7.5 percent of total jobs in Suffolk County.

 

Greg Filiano
Media Relations Manager, School of Medicine, Stony Brook University
Office: 631.444.9343
gregory.filiano@stonybrookmedicine.edu