Scientists discover link between common fungus and Alzheimer’s disease


HOUSTON — A troubling new research reveals a hyperlink between a typical fungus and Alzheimer’s illness. Scientists from the Baylor Faculty of Drugs are revealing how the fungus Candida albicans enters the mind, triggers mechanisms that support in its clearance, and generates poisonous protein fragments referred to as amyloid beta (Ab)-like peptides — a key participant in Alzheimer’s illness improvement.

“Our lab has years of expertise learning fungi, so we launched into the research of the connection between C. albicans and Alzheimer’s disease in animal fashions,” says research corresponding writer Dr. David Corry, the Fulbright Endowed Chair in Pathology and a professor of pathology and immunology and drugs at Baylor, in a university release. “In 2019, we reported that C. albicans does get into the mind the place it produces modifications which can be similar to what’s seen in Alzheimer’s illness. The present research extends that work to grasp the molecular mechanisms.”

The research first sought to unravel how Candida albicans gains access to the brain. Researchers found that the fungus produces enzymes known as secreted aspartic proteases (Saps), which break down the blood-brain barrier — a protecting barrier that normally prevents dangerous substances from entering the brain. This breach permits the fungus to infiltrate the mind and trigger injury.

The following query posed by the researchers was how the mind successfully clears the fungus. Earlier analysis has proven that C. albicans mind infections resolve fully in wholesome mice after 10 days. On this research, the staff unveiled two mechanisms triggered by the fungus in microglia brain cells, which play a vital position within the mind’s immune response.

“The identical Saps that the fungus makes use of to interrupt the blood-brain barrier additionally break down the amyloid precursor protein into Ab-like peptides,” says research first writer Dr. Yifan Wu, postdoctoral scientist in pediatrics working within the Corry lab. “These peptides activate microglial mind cells by way of a cell floor receptor known as Toll-like receptor 4, which retains the fungi load low within the mind, however doesn’t clear the an infection.”

Brain tumor seen in brain scan
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Moreover, C. albicans produces a protein known as candidalysin that binds to microglia by way of a distinct receptor, CD11b.

“Candidalysin-mediated activation of microglia is crucial for clearance of Candida within the mind,” notes Dr. Wu. “If we take away this pathway, fungi are not successfully cleared in the brain.”

The implications of this analysis lengthen to the understanding of Alzheimer’s illness improvement. The prevalent concept means that Alzheimer’s is primarily pushed by the buildup of poisonous Ab-like peptides within the mind, resulting in neurodegeneration. These peptides are believed to be produced endogenously throughout the mind.

Nonetheless, the present research reveals another supply for these Ab-like peptides — C. albicans. This frequent fungus, beforehand detected within the brains of people with Alzheimer’s illness and different continual neurodegenerative problems, possesses its personal set of proteases that may generate the identical Ab-like peptides produced throughout the mind itself.

“We suggest that the mind Ab-peptide aggregates that characterize a number of Candida-associated neurodegenerative circumstances together with Alzheimer’s illness, Parkinson’s disease and others, could also be generated each intrinsically by the mind and by C. albicans,” explains Dr. Corry. “These findings in animal fashions help conducting additional research to judge the position of C. albicans within the improvement of Alzheimer’s illness in folks, which may probably result in progressive therapeutic methods.”

The research is printed within the journal Cell Reports.

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