Study: Earlier detection of Alzheimer's possible

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Alzheimer's can be recognized early

Alzheimer's - an insidious disease that affects more and more people in old age, but is currently still not curable, but can only be postponed with medication. Scientists from the University Clinic in Bonn and the University of Göttingen have now gained new insights into the development of brain disease, which are currently published in the specialist journal "Acta Neuropathologica". Because while Alzheimer's researchers had previously assumed that "harmful plaques would attach to the outside of the nerve cells and eventually drive them to their doom", the researchers discovered dangerous deposits in the mouse brains directly in the nerve cells, which could indicate that "the Alzheimer's disease already begins when no plaques are visible from the outside, ”said the press release from the University of Bonn.

Alzheimer's cases to rise sharply by 2050 More than 1.3 million people in Germany suffer from dementia, in most cases it is Alzheimer's disease, which experts believe will increase in the number of diseases over the next few years Will double for 40 years. As with many of the so-called neurodegenerative diseases, the cause of the disease is irreparable damage and destruction of brain cells, although it has not yet been clearly clarified what causes it.

Deposition may be the cause of nerve cell destruction Deposits may be caused by deposits of incorrectly folded beta-amyloid peptides, which would have a negative effect on the function of the cells long before the first clinical symptoms. According to Prof. Dr. Jochen Walter from the Department of Neurology at the University Hospital in Bonn, Germany, has shown from previous studies that beta-amyloid peptides with a phosphate group should be classified as particularly harmful because they "clump more and are much more difficult to break down than peptides without a phosphate group."

New study shows age-related deposits in mice In new studies together with researchers from the University of Göttingen in mice suffering from Alzheimer's disease, the extent to which the deposits of these less degradable beta-amyloid peptides with phosphate groups depend on age - because plaques were previously known that the deposition takes place from the outside and the nerve cells are gradually damaged. Against this background, the researchers in their current study came to the surprising conclusion that "the particularly harmful beta-amyloid peptides with phosphate group in young, two-month-old animals did not deposit on the outside, but directly in the nerve cells," says Dr. Sathish Kumar from Prof. Walter's group. However, the situation changed in the mice from the age of six months: the deposits inside and outside the nerve cells were initially approximately equally pronounced until they were mainly outside the brain cells from the age of twelve months.

Disease could possibly be recognized earlier than before. The finding that at the beginning of the disease the deposits take place directly in the nerve cells shows the researchers that "Alzheimer's disease already begins when no plaques can be seen from the outside," said Prof. Walter - a very important finding, because early diagnosis and treatment can help to keep symptoms such as memory loss and behavioral problems under control as long as possible. Furthermore, it is suspected that the nerve cells that are affected by the deposits of the peptides with a phosphate group could be responsible for the worsening of the disease, because “these brain cells apparently age particularly quickly and appear to serve as a type of germ that later emerges form the plaques outside the brain cells, ”says the University of Bonn.

Antibodies and special staining techniques to identify particularly harmful plaques In order to be able to differentiate between the less harmful peptides without a phosphate group and the particularly harmful peptides with a phosphate group, the researchers had developed specific antibodies as part of their project, “which matched either the phosphate-containing or the phosphate-free variant of the beta-amyloid peptides like a key in the lock. ”In conjunction with special coloring techniques, it was possible to show exactly where there were phosphate-containing or phosphate-free deposits in the brains of the examined mice of different ages.

Possibility of developing biomarkers for better recognizability Based on the new findings, the scientists could now be identified as “biomarkers, with the help of which the beginning of the deposits in the nerve cells can be better recognized as the earliest stage of the disease.” Until then, Dr. Sathish Kumar, however, still has a long way to go, because first it has to be proven that the results from the mouse study are transferable to humans.

Four pillars of healthy lifestyle for the prevention of Alzheimer's disease Even if the current study raises new hope for those affected - it may still take a while until new Alzheimer's medication could come onto the market. But even if the best way of life cannot protect you from illnesses in principle, there are still some things that each individual can do to actively reduce their personal risk of old-age illnesses. In this context, scientists repeatedly point to four well-known pillars of healthy living that apply to everyone: healthy eating, sufficient exercise, mental activity and a lively social life. (No)

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