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Title: Prion-like spreading of Alzheimer’s disease within the brain’s connectome
The prion hypothesis states that misfolded proteins can act as infectious agents that template the misfolding and aggregation of healthy proteins to transmit a disease. Increasing evidence suggests that pathological proteins in neurodegenerative diseases adopt prion-like mechanisms and spread across the brain along anatomically connected networks. Local kinetic models of protein misfolding and global network models of protein spreading provide valuable insight into several aspects of prion-like diseases. Yet, to date, these models have not been combined to simulate how pathological proteins multiply and spread across the human brain. Here, we create an efficient and robust tool to simulate the spreading of misfolded protein using three classes of kinetic models, the Fisher–Kolmogorov model, the Heterodimer model and the Smoluchowski model. We discretize their governing equations using a human brain network model, which we represent as a weighted Laplacian graph generated from 418 brains from the Human Connectome Project. Its nodes represent the anatomic regions of interest and its edges are weighted by the mean fibre number divided by the mean fibre length between any two regions. We demonstrate that our brain network model can predict the histopathological patterns of Alzheimer’s disease and capture the key characteristic features of finite-element brain more » models at a fraction of their computational cost: simulating the spatio-temporal evolution of aggregate size distributions across the human brain throughout a period of 40 years takes less than 7 s on a standard laptop computer. Our model has the potential to predict biomarker curves, aggregate size distributions, infection times, and the effects of therapeutic strategies including reduced production and increased clearance of misfolded protein. « less
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Journal of The Royal Society Interface
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National Science Foundation
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