Mon, Mar 29 12:02 PM
In what could pave the way for new strategies for early diagnosis and effective treatment of Alzheimer’s, scientists have found that the disease makes parts of the brain shrink “as messages fail to get through”.
The findings, published in the ‘Neurology’ journal, suggest a build-up of deposits of the protein amyloid-beta in a region of the brain known as temporal inferior cortex which is connected to the hippocampus involved in memory.
Alzheimer’s disease is characterised by two factors –a build-up of amyloid-beta plaques in the brain, and a loss of neurons.
Lead scientist Dr Cassandra Szoeke of CSIRO said the puzzle for them was that the parts of the brain that had shrunk (atrophied) due to neuron loss were not the same as those showing increased deposits of amyloid-beta.
Using MRI scans to study Alzheimer’s disease affected brain tissue, the scientists found that shrinking (atrophy) of the hippocampus was associated with plaque deposits in the temporal inferior cortex.
The results indicate that the increased accumulation of amyloid in temporal inferior cortex disrupts connections with the hippocampus, causing the neurons to die, say the scientists.
“By helping to better understand the mechanisms involved in the progression of the disease, the study may guide the development of new strategies for early diagnosis,” Dr Szoeke said.