Monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL), an enzyme, has been identified as a potential therapeutic target to treat or prevent Alzheimer's disease.
The research team found that inactivation of MAGL, best known for its role in degrading a cannabinoid produced in the brain, reduced the production and accumulation of beta amyloid plaques, a pathological hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.
Inhibition of this enzyme also decreased neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration, and improved plasticity of the brain, learning and memory.
"Our results suggest that MAGL contributes to the cause and development of Alzheimer's disease and that blocking MAGL represents a promising therapeutic target," said lead researcher Dr. Chu Chen, PhD, Associate Professor of Neuroscience at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans.
"There is a great public health need to discover new therapies to prevent and treat this devastating disorder," Dr. Chen concludes. The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.
The study was recently published in the Online Now section of the journal Cell Reports.