The results of a new study revealed that sings of Alzheimer’s disease may start showing in the brain of people as young as 20. The results of the study were published in the journal Brain.
The signs of Alzheimer’s inside the brain are in the form of amyloids, which are abnormal proteins. These amyloids are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s and this new study found that amyloids can be found in people as young as 20 years old.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and statistics say that more than 5 million people in the United States are living with this disease which is also the 6th leading cause of death in the country.
Chanigz Geula, lead author of the study and research professor at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said that the discovery that amyloid begins to accumulate so early in one’s life is simply unprecedented.
This is very significant. We know that amyloid, when present for long periods of time, is bad for you.
Geula and his colleagues have examined neurons from the brains of three groups of individuals, all deceased: 21 people with ages 60 to 95 who had Alzheimer’s, 16 people with ages 70-99 who did not have Alzheimer’s and 13 young and healthy people with ages 20 to 66.
The scientists examined their basal forebrain cholinergic neurons, which are the first to die when the brain is affected by Alzheimer’s disease. These types of neurons are associated with attention and memory.
They found that amyloid molecules began clumping inside the neurons during young age and continued throughout a person’s life. The molecules formed toxic clump and were present in people during their 20s and in other healthy young individuals. With age and for those with Alzheimer’s, the size of the clumps grew larger.
These amyloid molecule clumps damage the neurons and in time kill them.
There have been previous results that have shown minute proof of the Alzheimer’s in the brain of older individuals, but this is the first time ever, where research finds evidence of amyloid accumulation in the brain of very young people.
Image Source: Calgary CMMC