Research Highlight

Blood protein to the rescue of Alzheimer’s patients

doi:10.1038/nindia.2016.161 Published online 5 December 2016

Fibrinogen, a protein that helps stop bleeding, may also arrest nerve cell death in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, new research reports1.

Beta-amyloids are sticky protein pieces that kill nerve cells by forming plaques and triggering aggregation of platelets. These processes lead to cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients. Fibrinogen could potentially be used to check nerve cell death in neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Scientists from the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata and Indian Institute of Toxicological Research Centre, Lucknow have shown that fibrinogen could bind to a specific part of beta-amyloid and prevent its ability to induce platelet clumping.  

Beta-amyloids increase the levels of reactive oxygen species and calcium ions in platelets. Fibrinogen pretreatment completely blocked the beta-amyloid-induced generation of the oxygen species and calcium ions.

Fibrinogen also stopped beta-amyloid-induced rupture of red blood cells. But, fibrinogen cannot reach the brain by crossing the blood-brain-barrier.

The precise stretch of fribrinogen that interacts with the beta-amyloid is known. “We would synthesize this stretch of fibrinogen, which could potentially cross the blood-brain-barrier to bind to beta-amyloid and prevent its interaction with the brain cells,” says lead scientist Debabrata Dash from the BHU, Varanasi.


1. Sonkar, V. K. et al. Plasma fibrinogen is a natural deterrent to amyloid a–induced platelet activation and neuronal toxicity. Mol. Med. 22, 224-232 (2016)