The Choroid Plexus, Revisited

You might recall research from last year suggesting age-related decline in the choroid plexus contributes to the buildup of amyloid characteristic to Alzheimer's disease.

the choroid plexus acts as a sort of 'fishnet' that captures the protein, called beta-amyloid, and prevents it from building up in the cerebrospinal fluid, which surrounds and bathes the brain and spinal cord. Moreover, tissue in the organ is able to soak up large amounts of the protein and may contain enzymes capable of digesting beta-amyloid.

I noticed a paper today that focuses on a quite different aspect of decline in the choroid plexus, but one that still leaves the brain the worse for it.

Aging reduces the neuroprotective capacity, VEGF secretion, and metabolic activity of rat choroid plexus epithelial cells:

Delivery of neurotrophic molecules to the brain has potential for preventing neuronal loss in neurodegenerative disorders. Choroid plexus (CP) epithelial cells secrete numerous neurotrophic factors, and encapsulated CP transplants are neuroprotective in models of stroke and Huntington's disease (HD).

...

In vitro, young CP epithelial cells secreted more VEGF and were metabolically more active than aged CP epithelial cells.

...

Implants of young CP were potently neuroprotective as rats receiving CP transplants were not significantly impaired when tested for motor function. In contrast, implants of CP from aged rats were only modestly effective and were much less potent than young CP transplants.

If (still a big if) Alzheimer's turns out to look a lot like Parkinson's at root, in that it stems from the failure of an important population of cells or narrow range of processes in the brain, the door is wide open for the next decade of regenerative therapies. There is so much we could do with the ability to grow fresh, healthy tissue to order - even in the brain.

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