New work has shown that “protein clumps” long associated with Alzheimer’s disease can cause heat buildup and fry brain cells “like scrambled eggs” and what drugs can be used to stop this process.
The accumulation of amyloid-beta proteins in toxic clumps is thought to be a key factor in the neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer’s disease and therefore receives a lot of attention from scientists trying to better understand the disease. The Cambridge group investigated the relationship between intracellular thermogenesis and amyloid-beta aggregation.
As the proteins began to accumulate and form thread-like structures called fibrils, the scientists observed that the average temperature of the cells began to rise, reaching significantly higher levels than in cells without amyloid-beta.
“Overheating a cell is like frying eggs—as it gets hotter, the proteins start to stick together and become non-functional,” says Kaminsky Schirle, who led the study.
In addition, the researchers were able to show that fever could be prevented by treating the cells with a drug that inhibits amyloid-beta aggregation.