Causes, Diagnosis and Symptoms

Like all types of dementia, Alzheimer's is caused by brain cell death. It is a neurodegenerative disease, which means there is progressive brain cell death that happens over a course of time.

The total brain size shrinks with Alzheimer's - the tissue has progressively fewer nerve cells and connections. In Alzheimer’s,there are microscopic 'plaques' and 'tangles' between and within brain cells.

While they cannot be seen or tested in the living brain affected by Alzheimer's disease, postmortem/autopsy will always show tiny inclusions in the nerve tissue, called plaques and tangles

Plaques are found between the dying cells in the brain - from the build-up of a protein called beta-amyloid (you may hear the term "amyloid plaques").

The tangles are within the brain neurons - from a disintegration of another protein, called tau.

Alzheimer's disease is not simple to diagnose - there is no single test for it. For this reason, the first thing doctors do is to rule out other problems before confirming whether mental signs and symptoms are severe enough to be a kind of dementia or something. Arranging brain scans (possibly including CT,MRI and EEG).

Sometimes dementia symptoms are related to an inherited disorder such as Huntington's disease, so genetic testing may be done.

Again though, the above early tests are not for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease itself, but for ruling out other problems before starting to narrow down to dementia caused by AD. Central to this is checking memory loss and mental performance (cognitive testing).

There must be memory loss and impairment in one other area of cognition for a diagnosis of dementia such as Alzheimer's to be made. These criteria also need to be progressive (a worsening compared with how the person has been before), and severe enough to affect daily activities.

In this track we can discuss on Neurological changes in brain, Amyloid protein, Genetic associations and susceptibility genes, Role of Apo lipoprotein E, Brain trauma, Metabolic syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease, Protein misfolding, aggregation and toxicity, Disease-causing mutations, Epidemiology and prevalence, Histone modification, DNA methylation, Alzheimer’s disease prevention.

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