First, a cell biology lesson. We’ll start first on what a Golgi apparatus is and what it does.
The Golgi apparatus helps to keep the cell clean and tidy by taking out the trash– left over bits of proteins that aren’t addressed to be taken to other places in the cell or sent outside of the cell. Perhaps you’ve heard something about tau-tangles? Tau is a type of protein and it gets tangled up in cells causing cellular dysfunction according to some recent research. It has been fingered as perhaps the cellular level culprit of such things like dementia. Maybe the reason the tau protein gets tangled up is that the Golgi apparatus hasn’t been tossing out the trash like it’s supposed to.
In the study above, the researchers are thinking that breakdown of the Golgi apparatus may be part of why neurons break down in dementia. The type of cells, the Purkinje cells, that they were looking at are located in the cerebellum in particularly high numbers. The cerebellum is responsible for coordination, so losing that area of the brain will give you ataxia or incoordination. They also mentioned that the symptoms got worse as the mice aged. The researchers didn’t really pinpoint this phenomenon to any particular diagnosis, just “neurodegenerative disease.” Makes we wonder if they’re thinking this might could be applied to several diagnoses in that category beyond dementia, like say, Parkinson. I honestly don’t know the cellular level pathophysiology of Parkinson, except that the basal ganglia cells don’t produce a particular neurotransmitter anymore. Maybe they can’t because they’re filled up with protein garbage!
Interesting. If we can pinpoint the root cause at a microscopic and hopefully chemical level, then we can treat the problem. This is just the beginning of this line of thought!
P.S.– The Golgi apparatus and the mitochondria are my favorite organelles! I know you were wondering.