Alzheimer’s DiseaseAlzheimer’s Disease is a progressive and irreversible brain disease thatdestroys mental and physical functioning in human beings, and invariably leadsto death.
It is the fourth leading cause of adult death in the United States. Alzheimer’s creates emotional and financial catastrophe for many Americanfamilies every year, but fortunately, a large amount of progress is being madeto combat Alzheimer’s disease every year. To fully be able to comprehend andcombat Alzheimer’s disease, one must know what it does to the brain, the partof the human body it most greatly affects. Many Alzheimer’s disease sufferershad their brains examined.Order now
A large number of differences were present whencomparing the normal brain to the Alzheimer’s brain. There was a loss of nervecells from the Cerebral Cortex in the Alzheimer’s victim. Approximately tenpercent of the neurons in this region were lost. But a ten percent loss isrelatively minor, and cannot account for the severe impairment suffered byAlzheimer’s victims. Neurofibrillary Tangles are also found in the brains ofAlzheimer’s victims. They are found within the cell bodies of nerve cells inthe cerebral cortex, and take on the structure of a paired helix.
Otherdiseases that have “paired helixes” include Parkinson’s disease, Down’sSyndrome, and Dementia Pugilistica. Scientists are not sure how the pairedhelixes are related in these very different diseases. Neuritic Plaques arepatches of clumped material lying outside the bodies of nerve cells in the brain. They are mainly found in the cerebral cortex, but have also been seen in otherareas of the brain. At the core of each of these plaques is a substance calledamyloid, an abnormal protein not usually found in the brain.
This amyloid coreis surrounded by cast off fragments of dead or dying nerve cells. The cellfragments include dying mitochondria, presynaptic terminals, and pairedhelical filaments identical to those that are neurofibrillary tangles. Manyneuropathologists think that these plaques are basically clusters ofdegenerating nerve cells. But they are still not sure of how and why thesefragments clustered together. Congophilic Angiopathy is the technical name thatneuropathologists have given to an abnormality found in the walls of bloodvessels in the brains of victims of Alzheimer’s disease. These abnormal patchesare similar to the neuritic plaques that develop in Alzheimer’s disease, inthat amyloid has been found within the blood-vessel walls wherever the patchesoccur.
Another name for these patches is cerebrovascular amyloid, meaningamyloid found in the blood vessels of the brains. Acetylcholine is a substancethat carries signals from one nerve cell to another. It is known to beimportant to learning and memory. In the mid 1970s, scientists found that thebrains of those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease contained sixty to ninetypercent less of the enzyme choline acetyltransferase(CAT), which is responsiblefor producing acetylcholine, than did the brains of healthy persons. This wasa great milestone, as it was the first functional change related to learningand memory, and not to different structures. Somatostatin is another means bywhich cells in the brain communicate with each other.
The quantities of thischemical messenger, like those of CAT, are also greatly decreased in thecerebral cortex and the hippocampus of persons with Alzheimer’s disease, almostto the same degree as CAT is lost. Although scientists have been able toidentify many of these, and other changes, they are not yet sure as to how,or why they take place in Alzheimer’s disease. One could say, that they havemost of the pieces of the puzzle; all that is left to do is find the missingpiece and decipher the meaning. If treatment is required for someone withAlzheimer’s disease, then the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related DisordersAssociation(ADRDA), a privately funded, national, non-profit organizationdedicated to easing the burden of Alzheimer victims and their families andfinding a cure can be contacted. There are more than one hundred and sixtychapters throughout the country, and over one thousand support groups that canbe contacted for help. ADRDA fights Alzheimer’s on five fronts 1- fundingresearch 2- educating and thus increase public awareness 3- establishingchapters with support groups 4- encouraging federal and local legislation tohelp victims and their families 5- providing a service to help victims and theirfamilies find the proper care they need.Science