The scientists, in an animal study funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, showed that by targeting the blood-brain barrier, they were able to slow the accumulation of a protein associated with the progression of the illness.
The blood-brain barrier separates the brain from circulating blood, they said, protecting the brain by removing toxic metabolites and proteins formed in the brain and preventing entry of toxic chemicals from the blood.
"This study may provide the experimental basis for new strategies that can be used to treat Alzheimer's patients," said David Miller, chief of the NIEHS Laboratory of Toxicology and Pharmacology and an author of the study. "What we've shown in our mouse models is that we can reduce the accumulation of beta-amyloid protein in the brain by targeting a certain receptor in the brain known as the pregnane X receptor, or PXR," said Miller.
The study led by University of Minnesota researcher Anika Hartz included Assistant Professor Bjorn Bauer and appears in the May issue of the journal Molecular Pharmacology.