Investigated how the loss of connectivity between the left and right hippocampus affects Alzheimer’s disease

From left to right: Rut Campos, Ana Lloret and Artemis Ftara at the XI World Con
From left to right: Rut Campos, Ana Lloret and Artemis Ftara at the XI World Congress of Neuroscience IBRO 2023.
The University of Valencia (UV) and the INCLIVA Health Research Institute, of the Clinical Hospital of Valencia, are investigating whether there is a loss of connectivity in the hippocampus (a brain structure that plays a crucial role in memory and learning) in Alzheimer’s disease early. To do this, it is being analysed whether the nerve fibres that connect the left and right hippocampus (the hippocampal commissure) are damaged and this has any functional repercussions. Tomorrow, Thursday the 21st, we celebrate World Alzheimer’s Day.

"Until now, therapies have focused on eliminating toxic substances that accumulate in the brain of patients or on neurodegeneration, so the current study could provide a new approach to the search for treatments that focus on another process such as It is the loss of myelin", explains Ana Lloret, who leads this work, full professor of Physiology at the UV and researcher in the Aging and Physical Exercise Group of INCLIVA and CIBERFES (Network Centre for Biomedical Research in Frailty and Healthy Aging) of the Carlos III health Institute.

"Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia in the world and is a neurodegenerative disease with no curative or preventive treatment to date. We do not know what causes the onset of the disease and this complicates the search for effective treatments. For this reason, we believe it is important to look for new hypotheses of possible mechanisms that are involved in the beginning of it", she adds.

The research team has been able to see images through magnetic resonance imaging compatible with a loss of myelin, a substance that covers nerve fibres, which, when damaged or destroyed, prevents adequate communication between neurons in the commissure of the hippocampus and alterations in the electroencephalogram in patients who have participated in the study so far.

The preliminary results in Alzheimer’s patients of this research have just been presented at the XI World Congress of Neuroscience IBRO 2023 - held in Granada between September 9 and 13 - Two models have been used in the research. On the one hand, experiments on transgenic mice that develop Alzheimer’s disease and, on the other, patients with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer'’s disease from the Clinical Hospital of Valencia, as well as controls without dementia. Each individual has had an MRI and then an electroencephalogram. The experiments on mice have been carried out by doctoral students Artemis Ftara and Rut Campos.

The research, which began in September 2022 and is scheduled to end in June 2025, has obtained funding of 121,000 euros from the Ministry of Science and Innovation (PID2021-127236OB-100). The research is also co-directed by Ana Cervera, from the UV Neural Circuits Laboratory. Also participating in it are Ángeles Lloret and Tatiana Enríquez (Clinical Neurophysiology Service of the Clinical Hospital of Valencia), Begoña López (Neurology Service of the Clinical Hospital of Valencia) and José Luis León Guijarro, neuroradiologist and medical head of the Ascires Clinic.

About World Alzheimer’s Day

September 21 marks World Alzheimer’s Day, a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behaviour and whose symptoms generally develop slowly and worsen over time. The aging of the population leads to an increase in the number of people who develop the disease, with a serious impact on those who suffer from it and their immediate environment. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 55 million people (8.1% of women and 5.4% of men over 65 years of age) live with dementia, and it is estimated that this figure will increase to 78 million in 2030.