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Is There a Connection Between Amyloids and Alzheimer’s?

By Nikhil Mehta, 9:00 am on

There is some mystery surrounding the cause of Alzheimer’s disease, but researchers believe it may have something to do with amyloid proteins. Senior care professionals at Palm Desert Home Care Assistance offer the following information to help caregivers better understand the role of amyloids in the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Amyloid Proteins Fibrils

The human body produces protein fragments called amyloids. When beta amyloid protein fragments separate from amyloid precursor proteins (APP), a healthy body is able to break down and eliminate these fragments from the brain. However, in people with Alzheimer’s disease these fragments gather and form hard, insoluble plaques. PET scans revealed beta amyloid fibrils (threadlike fibers or filaments) when following Alzheimer’s progression in living seniors. However, the progression of the disease did not definitively correspond to additional deposits of these fibrils. 

Disruption of Neurons

Amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are believed to be caused by the breakdown of neurons in the brain. A vital cell transport system made of proteins has parallel strands or tracks. Cell parts, food molecules, and other materials travel along the tracks, kept straight by the protein tau. When tangles form, tau collapses into twisted strands, and the tracks are no longer straight. They disintegrate, inhibiting movement through the cells, which eventually die. The amyloid hypothesis suggests that plaque accumulation occurs first, triggering tau accumulation that disrupts neuron function and leads to their death.

Plaque Formation

It is uncertain whether plaques are the cause or effect of this disease. Plaque formation inhibitors have not proven effective against AD. Scientific Alzheimer’s evidence suggests that the cause might lie elsewhere and that amyloid plaques are not the singular cause but rather advanced-stage Alzheimer’s markers. Plaques are also observed in seniors without Alzheimer’s.

Onset of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s researcher Dr. Robert G. Struble and colleagues propose that reduced brain metabolic activity precedes the onset of dementia and beta amyloid fibril deposits. Therefore, he believes a decline in brain metabolism is more likely the trigger for Alzheimer’s disease.

Providing care for a senior with Alzheimer’s can be challenging and confusing, but you don’t have to do it alone. Home Care Assistance provides professional Alzheimer’s home care for seniors in Palm Desert, and our compassionate caregivers make your loved one a top priority. With an individualized care plan, we can offer around-the-clock monitoring, mobility and exercise assistance, meal preparation and companionship on a schedule that meets your loved one’s needs. Call us today at 760.345.0001 for your in-home consultation.