'Bionanotechnology from Theory to Practice' is a short online, course providing an interdisciplinary and up-to-date overview of the rapidly developing area of bionanotechnology
Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_95308

BRCA1 link to Alzheimer's disease

7 December 2015
Appeared in BioNews 831

Scientists have identified a link between the product of the BRCA1 gene, variants of which can cause breast and ovarian cancer, and Alzheimer's disease.

They found that levels of the normal BRCA1 protein were up to 75 percent lower in the brains of people who died from Alzheimer's disease than in the brains of people who died from other causes.

'It's extremely interesting that one molecule can be critically involved in two apparently opposing conditions: cancer, in which too many cells are born, and neurodegenerative disease, in which too many brain cells die off,' said Professor Lennart Mucke of the University of California, San Fransisco, who conducted the study, which was published in Nature Communications.

BRCA1 is one of several proteins that are important for repairing 'double-strand breaks' in the DNA of healthy brains. This DNA-repair role is vital because, if the breaks aren't repaired, the affected brain cells could die.

The researchers also looked at the brains of mice. They lowered BRCA1 levels in the dentate gyrus, a part of the brain that is affected early in the course of Alzheimer's disease. They found that this BRCA1 reduction caused the cells in this region to become damaged, and these mice had problems with tasks involving learning and memory.

Beta-amyloid is a protein that has long been implicated in Alzheimer's disease, and abnormal accumulations are known to kill neurons in the brain. When the researchers added this protein to a dish containing neurons, they observed that BRCA1 levels were reduced.

Taken together, these findings imply that 'beta-amyloid decreases the levels of the DNA-repair gene BRCA1, and at the same time inhibits the ability to form new memories', according to Dr Roderick Corriveau, program director of the NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, who was not involved in the study.

However, the link between BRCA1 and Alzheimer's disease is far from clear. Speaking to The Telegraph, Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at the Alzheimer's Society, said, 'It is too soon to know if this gene [BRCA1] is connected to Alzheimer's disease or any other form of dementia. The research does not draw any links between the risk of developing cancer and dementia.'
14 August 2017 - by Sarah Gregory 
After the annual Alzheimer's Association International Conference for scientific researchers was held in London this summer, and the subsequent flurry of media interest, the UK dementia charity Alzheimer's Society announced an event for the public to discuss the much asked question: is dementia inherited?...
11 July 2016 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
Genetic mutations on several genes including BRCA2 have been associated with prostate cancer; while in a separate study, a BRCA1 mutation has been linked to a particular form of uterine cancer...
11 July 2016 - by Sarah Gregory 
Researchers looking at multiple genes have developed risk scores that could identify those most likely to develop Alzheimer's disease in later life...
6 June 2016 - by Dr James Heather 
After one year of existence, the BRCA Share database has released details on its progress in collating information on variants of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes...
25 April 2016 - by Dr Katie Howe 
Women with a mutation in the breast-cancer susceptibility gene BRCA1 may have reduced numbers of eggs left in their ovaries, according to a study led by Australian scientists...
14 September 2015 - by Chris Hardy 
A blood test designed to assess how well somebody is ageing could be used to predict whether or not they are likely to develop certain illnesses, like Alzheimer's disease...
7 September 2015 - by Chris Hardy 
An experimental gene therapy used in patients with Alzheimer's disease appears to slow down neural degeneration....
26 August 2014 - by Claire Downes 
Researchers have identified a connection between DNA methylation and Alzheimer's disease, gaining a further understanding into the underlying causes of this neurodegenerative condition....
18 August 2014 - by Chris Hardy 
A man without a working copy of a gene thought to be necessary for healthy brain function - and linked with Alzheimer's disease - has a 'grossly normal cognitive status'. Targeting this gene in people at-risk for the disease could help to protect them against it...
8 April 2013 - by Dr Linda Wijlaars 
Three new genetic markers for Alzheimer's disease have been identified, pointing to a less well-known mechanism to explain how the disease develops...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.