Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland have found a potential neuroprotective effect of a protein modification that could be a therapeutic target in early Alzheimer’s disease. The new study investigated the role of MECP2, a regulator of gene expression, in Alzheimer’s disease related processes in brain cells. The study found that phosphorylation of MECP2 protein at a specific amino acid decreases in the brain as Alzheimer’s disease is progressing. Abolishing this phosphorylation of MECP2 in cultured mouse neurons upon inflammatory stimulation enhanced their viability and increased the expression of important genes in the maintenance and protection of neurons. The results obtained in the study call attention to modifications of MECP2 as potential targets for developing specific therapies against AD and other neurodegenerative diseases. The study was recently published in the Cells journal.