A release from Auburn University says one of the school's researchers has found a genetic link between obesity and Alzheimer's disease which could be the first step in curing the memory-debilitating illness.
Marie Wooten, associate dean for research and professor of biological science, found that if a certain protein molecule, called p62, is absent from the brain in mice, they are much more susceptible to Alzheimer's disease.
"When we deleted the p62 gene from mice, unexpectedly they became obese and memory-impaired, leading to insulin-resistance and Alzheimer's-like symptoms, said Wooten, who has been conducting the research for 10 years through support from the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
"Our work revealed that p62 plays a critical role in receptor trafficking, which supports survival of neurons in the brain," Wooten said.
Receptor trafficking is a process in the brain that allows neurons, or nerve cells, to communicate information to each other. Alzheimer's disease occurs when neurons deteriorate and die, causing memory loss.