Alzheimer's disease news/notes
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01-16-2013, 12:47 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Los Angeles
Originally Posted by
This actually raises an interesting point, one that maybe Danja can answer. Is it possible for someone to have latent forms of Alzheimer's? In other words, someone who may show some of the telltale pathology of an Alzheimer's patient (eg. neurofibrillary tangles, amyloid plaques, etc.), yet has never demonstrated any of the cognitive and functional decline that is typical of Alzheimers?
My guess is that conclusive data would be hard to find on ths, since they aren't going to be doing many pathology reports on the brains of deceased patients who showed no cognitive decline.
Nevertheless, I think this may be an example of the media making false conclusions based on incomplete understanding of certain terms. Slowing cognitive decline (which is what the article discusses) wouldn't necessarily equate to preventing or delaying AD.
Actually, there have been studies on this and the answer to your question is yes. I don't have time to find the actual scholarly articles right now, but a quick Google search turned up the following:
Molecular Imaging Detects Signs of Alzheimer's in Healthy Patients
Brain Plaques in Healthy Individuals Linked to Increased Alzheimer's Risk
Keep in mind that cognitive decline isn't a binary thing; it's not like you have dementia or you don't. You either have a dementia diagnosis from your doctor or not, but the reality is that it's a continuum; you can have gradual cognitive decline that isn't recognized as Alzheimer's because you died for other reasons before the disease got to the point of full-blown dementia.
The current hypothesis is that the plaques are actually a symptom of the disease rather than the cause. The actual neuron-killing agent is predicted to be soluble amyloid oligomers (clusters of 2 to ~16 fragments of the amyloid protein which are still small enough to dissolve in water). This has been tested by collecting these fragments from patient brains (and also manufacturing them artificially in the lab) and then injecting them into mouse brains; the mice subsequently recapitulated Alzheimer's symptoms and grew plaques.
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