New research dashes notions of benign brain plaque

May 22, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- The time may have come to scrub the idea that brain plaque — deposits of protein that clog passages between brain cells — might not be all that bad.

University of Florida researchers have discovered that people with no signs of dementia during their lives, even though their brains contained the debris typical of Alzheimer’s disease, probably would have experienced health problems had they lived longer, according to a study to appear this week in the open access journal Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy.

Scientists suspect patients who experience relatively few cognitive problems even with a substance called amyloid beta accumulating in their brains — the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease — might collect a less toxic form of the so-called brain plaque.

But UF College of Medicine scientists with colleagues from the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville found few differences when they compared the postmortem of Alzheimer’s patients with that from people who accumulated plaque without symptoms, a condition known as pathological aging.

“Pathological aging may be early Alzheimer’s disease rather than a benign form of amyloid protein deposition, or it may be patients with PA are resistant to the toxic effects of the amyloid plaques,” said Dr. Todd Golde, director of the UF’s Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Disease. “It will be important to understand the differences between these two neurodegenerative pathologies in treatment and prevention efforts.”

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by severe loss of neurons in brain regions important for learning and memory because of overproduction of amyloid beta protein. In a healthy brain, these protein fragments are broken down and eliminated. But when they accumulate, scientists believe amyloid interferes with the brain’s ability to generate new cells and contributes to tangles — twisted masses of protein fibers within the brain cell.

The researchers found similar amounts of insoluble amyloid in Alzheimer’s and pathologically aged brain tissue, with elevated levels in both types of abnormal tissue compared with healthy brain tissue. Researchers also found a great deal of similarity and overlap in the subtypes of amyloid protein, according to Golde, who is also affiliated with UF’s McKnight Institute.

Experimental models suggest that therapies that target these proteins may be effective in preventing or delaying disease development. Without treatment or prevention breakthroughs, a projected 7.7 million patients in the U.S. will have Alzheimer’s by 2030, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. That number will grow to between 11 million and 16 million by 2050.

Explore further: Falls may be early sign of Alzheimer's

Related Stories

Falls may be early sign of Alzheimer's

July 18, 2011
Falls and balance problems may be early indicators of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis report July 17, 2011, at the Alzheimer’s Association International ...

New discovery in Alzheimer's protein puzzle

May 14, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- A medical research team at the University of Alberta has made two related discoveries that could shed more light on Alzheimer’s disease.

Malfunctioning protein a cause of Alzheimer's plaques

June 30, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- In a new study published in Science Translational Medicine, scientists from the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis reveal their discovery of a protein made by an Alzheimer’s gene ...

Alzheimer’s prevention better than a cure

July 14, 2011
In a new study published in Nature, Dr. Sam Gandy from Mount Sinai Medical Center argues that finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease may be near impossible and that the best hope for researchers is to focus on prevention, ...

Recommended for you

Canola oil linked to worsened memory and learning ability in Alzheimer's

December 7, 2017
Canola oil is one of the most widely consumed vegetable oils in the world, yet surprisingly little is known about its effects on health. Now, a new study published online December 7 in the journal Scientific Reports by researchers ...

Genetics study suggests that education reduces risk of Alzheimer's disease

December 7, 2017
The theory that education protects against Alzheimer's disease has been given further weight by new research from the University of Cambridge, funded by the European Union. The study is published today in the BMJ.

Healthy mitochondria could stop Alzheimer's

December 6, 2017
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and neurodegeneration worldwide. A major hallmark of the disease is the accumulation of toxic plaques in the brain, formed by the abnormal aggregation of a protein called ...

Alzheimer's damage in mice reduced with compound that targets APOE gene

December 6, 2017
People who carry the APOE4 genetic variant face a substantial risk for developing Alzheimer's disease.

Lithium in water associated with slower rate of Alzheimer's disease deaths

December 5, 2017
Rates of diabetes and obesity, which are important risk factors for Alzheimer's disease, also decrease if there is a particular amount of lithium in the water, says the study, published recently in the Journal of Alzheimer's ...

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease

December 5, 2017
A new Tel Aviv University study reveals that hyperbaric oxygen treatments may ameliorate symptoms experienced by patients with Alzheimer's disease.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.