Skip to content

Alzheimer amyloid accumulation found in young adult brains for the first time.

Amyloid, an abnormal protein whose accumulation in the brain is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, starts accumulating inside neurons of people as young as 20, a much younger age than scientists ever imagined, reports a surprising new Northwestern Medicine study.  Scientists believe this is the first time amyloid accumulation has been shown in such young human brains. It’s long been known that amyloid accumulates and forms clumps of plaque outside neurons in aging adults and in Alzheimer’s.

In the current study, scientists examined basal forebrain cholinergic neurons to try to understand why they are damaged early and are among the first to die in normal aging and in Alzheimer’s. These vulnerable neurons are closely involved in memory and attention.  The team examined these neurons from the brains of three groups of deceased individuals, thirteen cognitively normal young individuals, ages 20 to 66; sixteen non-demented old individuals, ages 70 to 99; and twenty-one individuals with Alzheimer’s ages 60 to 95.

The researchers found amyloid molecules began accumulating inside these neurons in young adulthood and continued throughout the lifespan. Nerve cells in other areas of the brain did not show the same extent of amyloid accumulation. The amyloid molecules in these cells formed small toxic clumps, amyloid oligomers, which were present even in individuals in their 20’s and other normal young individuals. The size of the clumps grew larger in older individuals and those with Alzheimer’s.

The team state that this points to why these neurons die early and the small clumps of amyloid may be a key reason. The lifelong accumulation of amyloid in these neurons likely contributes to the vulnerability of these cells to pathology in aging and loss in Alzheimer’s.  The growing clumps likely damage and eventually kill the neurons. It’s known that when neurons are exposed to these clumps, they trigger an excess of calcium leaking into the cell, which can cause their death.

It’s also possible that the clumps get so large, that the degradation machinery in the cell can’t get rid of them, and they clog it up.  The amyloid clumps may also cause damage by secreting amyloid outside the cell, contributing to the formation of the large amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer’s

The team now plan to investigate how the internal amyloid damages the neurons in future research.

Source:  Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

 

In this composite image of two neurons, toxic amyloid-β oligomers (red) bind to the cell on the left and eliminate synapses (green), which are required for memory formation.  Marcelo Vieira/Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro.
In this composite image of two neurons, toxic amyloid-β oligomers (red) bind to the cell on the left and eliminate synapses (green), which are required for memory formation. Marcelo Vieira/Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro.

Healthinnovations View All

Michelle Petersen is the founder of Healthinnovations, having worked in the health and science industry for over 21 years, which includes tenure within the NHS and Oxford University. Healthinnovations is a publication that has reported on, influenced, and researched current and future innovations in health for the past decade.

Michelle has been picked up as an expert writer for Informa publisher’s Clinical Trials community, as well as being listed as a blog source by the world’s leading medical journals, including the acclaimed Nature-Springer journal series.

Healthinnovations is currently indexed by the trusted Altmetric and PlumX metrics systems, respectively, as a blog source for published research globally. Healthinnovations is also featured in the world-renowned BioPortfolio, BioPortfolio.com, the life science, pharmaceutical and healthcare portal.

Most recently the Texas A&M University covered The Top 10 Healthinnovations series on their site with distinguished Professor Stephen Maren calling the inclusion of himself and his team on the list a reflection of “the hard work and dedication of my students and trainees”.

Michelle Petersen’s copy was used in the highly successful marketing campaign for the mega-hit film ‘Jumanji: The Next Level, starring Jack Black, Karen Gilian, Kevin Hart and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Michelle Petersen’s copywriting was part of the film’s coverage by the Republic TV network. Republic TV is the most-watched English language TV channel in India since its inception in 2017.

An avid campaigner in the fight against child sex abuse and trafficking, Michelle is a passionate humanist striving for a better quality of life for all humans by helping to provide traction for new technologies and techniques within healthcare.

One thought on “Alzheimer amyloid accumulation found in young adult brains for the first time. Leave a comment

  1. In some ways this reminds me of the Morean War Era discovery of athelerosclerotic plaques in a similar age group for the first time. With regard to the Beta Amyloid plaques described here –I wasn’t clear if this was the first time researchers looked for them in this age group or first time they actually have found them: I’m thinking about implications like a generation or two that has exchanged “running around outside” for “device time”, etc…

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.