Hidden network of enzymes accounts for loss of brain synapses in Alzheimer’s

A new study on Alzheimer’s disease by Scripps Research scientists has revealed a previously unknown biochemical cascade in the brain that leads to the destruction of synapses, the connections between nerve cells that are responsible for memory and cognition.

The findings present a fresh angle for discovering drugs that treat Alzheimer’s disease, which affects roughly 50 million people worldwide. The study, led by Scripps Research Professor and Step Family Foundation Endowed Chair Stuart Lipton, MD, PhD, appears in the journal Science.

This newly-discovered series of abnormal chemical events, termed “protein transnitrosylation reactions,” contribute to synapse loss, the main driver of memory loss and cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s.