Alzheimer's is congenital?

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Is Alzheimer's disease congenital?

(07/26/2010) Scientists have discovered clues that indicate that Alzheimer's is probably congenital. Research has developed new insights that indicate that Alzheimer's disease is a result of a brain development disorder.

Leipzig brain researchers from the Paul Flechsig Institute for Brain Research at the University of Leipzig assume that Alzheimer's may be a congenital disease. "Alzheimer's does indeed seem to be innate," said Prof. Dr. Thomas Arendt from the Institute of the Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration department. Hyperploid neurons are responsible for the fact that the brain cells in patients with Alzheimer's disease die in large numbers.

According to brain researchers, the human organism can handle and tolerate a certain number of hyperploid neurons. These neurons occur in small numbers in the non-diseased human brain. However, if the number increases before the disease breaks out in the pre-clinical phase and time, this can no longer be compensated for in the brain. Then the first minimal effects are noticeable. A tolerance limit then appears to have been broken, said Prof. Arendt. In the case of a seriously ill patient, the number of hyperploid cells decreased again. "A clear indication that they have died, because cells don't just disappear like that," said the researcher.

The scientists found the effects of examining different samples from brains of people with different diseases. In contrast to healthy cells, hyperploid neurons have a large number of these genetic carriers instead of two pairs of chromosomes. In this development from stem cells to neurons, there is only one mechanism that allows such "wrong building blocks" to die.

The research results are now developing further important questions that the scientists want to investigate. "Why is a hyperploid cell so susceptible to cell death? Can this abnormal development also be detected in organs other than the brain? Are there possibly harmful influences on mother and child during pregnancy that lead to the developmental disorder of the brain?" However, there will not be any new answers to this quickly, so further extensive research must be carried out. The study and further background were published in the scientific journal "The American Journal of Pathology". (sb)

Image: Rolf van Melis /

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