What is Alzheimer?
Who is likely to get Alzheimer?
How it works
During the clinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease toxic changes are taking place in the brain. Abnormal deposits of proteins form amyloid plaques and tau tangles throughout the brain, and neurons begin to work less efficiently. Over time, neurons lose their ability to function and communicate with each other. They eventually die out. The damage spreads to a nearby structure in the brain called the hippocampus, which is essential in forming memories. As more neurons die, affected brain regions begin to shrink. By the final stage of Alzheimer’s, damage is widespread, and brain tissue has shrunk significantly.
Two of the main features found in brains diseased with Alzheimer are neurotically tangles made up of a protein called tau, and senile plaques. The tau proteins that form the tangles previously held together a structure inside the neurons called a micro-tubule which is an important part of the neuron; it forms part of the cytoskelton which is what maintains a cell's shape, and micro-tubules plays a part in cell communication. Both tangles and plaques may be caused by other diseases, is being investigated as a possible cause or contributor in developing Alzheimer's.