What goes on in their minds?

  • Researchers in the Netherlands have found a subgroup of individuals in a national brain bank who had signs of Alzheimer’s disease in their brains but never showed symptoms while alive.

  • Some experts say this is a rare occurrence, but it can happen, since it can take decades between the first amyloid deposits in the brain that characterize the disease and the appearance of symptoms.

  • So-called resilience to Alzheimer’s symptoms may develop due to genetics or lifestyle choices, but some studies have found that cognitive-enhancing activities may help ease those symptoms.

Researchers in the Netherlands recently made a surprising discovery after studying data from more than 2,000 brains in the Netherlands Brain Bank.

his study-which Acta Neuropathologica Communications – found that a subset of people had clear signs Alzheimer’s disease The virus was found in his brain tissue, but he showed no symptoms while he survived.

Granted, they identified only 12 of these individuals from the available brain tissue, and recorded the necessary clinical information. But this raised many questions about the disease and what makes a person resistant to it.

Dementia doesn’t only affect directly 55 million people 70% of people worldwide suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, which is characterized by the loss of brain cells associated with a toxic build-up of two proteins. starch And Yes,

The most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are: memory loss, cognitive decline, problems with speech, recognition, spatial awareness, reading or writing, and significant changes in personality and behavior.

Because Alzheimer’s disease is progressive, these symptoms are usually mild at first and become more severe over time.

What could be the reason for Alzheimer’s disease to progress without any symptoms?

The phenomenon of Alzheimer’s disease without any symptoms is called “resilience.”

In the resilient group, the researchers observed that a type of brain cells called astrocytes — which they described in a study — Press release They appear to produce more of an antioxidant called metallothionein—known as “garbage collectors” that play a protective role in the brain.

Astrocytes can interact with microglia in the brain to increase inflammation, but these pathways linked to Alzheimer’s appeared to be less active in the resilient group.

The researchers also found that the brain cell response, which is meant to remove misfolded toxic proteins, was relatively normal in the resilient group.

This so-called “unfolded protein response” is typically affected in Alzheimer’s patients. And there were indications that the brain cells of the resilient individuals had more mitochondria than the cells of the other Alzheimer’s patients, which meant that energy production may have been stronger in the resilient group.

Cognitive reserve and the phenomenon of ‘flexibility’

Genetics and lifestyle may play a role in this type of flexibility, David Merrill, M.D., Ph.D.“We have a geriatric psychiatrist and director of the Pacific Brain Health Center at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, who was not involved in the study,” told Live Science. Medical News Today.

,Cognitive reserve“Resilience to brain damage plays an important role. Additionally, genetic factors, lifestyle and environmental influences may modulate the onset and severity of symptoms regardless of the underlying pathology,” Merrill said.

“The authors talk about changes in the function of neuronal support cells such as astrocytes and microglia, or component parts of neurons such as energy-producing mitochondria,” he said.

Yuko Hara, PhD“We hope that our research will help you better understand the benefits of Alzheimer’s,” said study author and director of aging and Alzheimer’s prevention at the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF), who was not involved in the study. MNT There may be a gap of 20 to 30 years between the first signs of amyloid deposits in the brain and the appearance of symptoms.

Hara explained that there are several ways people can build up their cognitive reserve over time:

“Cognitive reserve is the brain’s ability to resist the effects of age-related changes or disease-related pathologies, such as beta-amyloid, which typically lead to a decline in cognitive function. Based on this phenomenon, the knowledge and experiences people gain throughout their lifetime help them better cope with pathologies such as beta-amyloid and maintain cognitive function longer. There are many things you can do to increase cognitive reserve: take a class to learn something new, read books, learn a new language, learn to play a musical instrument, or stimulate and challenge your brain in other ways.”

How common is asymptomatic Alzheimer’s?

Adult children or spouses of people with Alzheimer’s disease may come in for testing even without symptoms, Merrill said, but in general, most clinic patients seek care only when they have symptoms.

He said: “It is not common for patients to be asymptomatic, be it Alzheimer’s disease or any other disease. However, the early symptoms may be visible.” [Alzheimer’s] Since aging can mimic normal aging, many individuals come to terms with the question: Is what is happening normal or the beginning of aging? [Alzheimer’s disease],

“We look at a continuum of symptoms, not a categorical incidence of symptomatic versus asymptomatic,” Merrill said. “So, it makes sense that asymptomatic brain donors are rarely seen in studies.”

“Alzheimer’s pathology is seen in asymptomatic individuals, although in clinical practice this is the exception, not the rule. This is consistent with emerging research that suggests Alzheimer’s disease can be present without any obvious cognitive symptoms, possibly due to cognitive reserve or compensatory mechanisms in the brain, which were described in the study.”

– David Merrill, M.D., Ph.D.

Hara said that symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease appear very early in life, but there are no general symptoms. He pointed to several interesting studies about this phenomenon.

“There are many people who have pathological markers of Alzheimer’s disease, but do not have symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Beta-amyloid, a pathological marker of Alzheimer’s disease, may begin to accumulate in the brain We were around 20 years old,” He told me.

“Amyloid deposition in the brain begins decades before the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms. One study found that 44% of people aged 90 had good cognitive functioning had amyloid pathologyHara said.

“There are also examples of genetic mutations that provide protection against the genetic form of Alzheimer’s disease,” he added.

However, he added that these appear to be rare occurrences:

“A 2019 study A woman with a presenilin 1 (PSEN1) mutation, a genetic cause of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, did not develop dementia in her 40s, while others with the mutation did, researchers report. Instead, she had only mild memory loss in her 70s. Researchers found that the woman had two copies of a rare mutation called APOE3 “She remained resistant to Alzheimer’s symptoms for 30 years, despite having very high levels of beta-amyloid in her brain, possibly due to the Christchurch mutation.”

Strategies for preventing Alzheimer’s disease

However, there are genetic factors that may determine a person’s vulnerability to developing Alzheimer’s disease, a 2020 report said. the Lancet Alcohol consumption, smoking, poor diet, lack of education, lack of social interaction and lack of exercise can all contribute to disease progression, the study said.

At the same time, research shows that some Lifestyle interventions Medications that stimulate brain activity may help either increase cognitive reserve or relieve some of the symptoms.

For example, a study published in neurology A 2021 study found that high levels of cognitive activity, such as reading, playing games like checkers and puzzles, and writing letters, may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by 5 years in people aged 80 and older.

Another study published in 2022 PNASfound that spending more time in cognitively inactive activities, such as watching TV, is associated with an increased risk of dementia, whereas spending more time in cognitively active tasks, such as using a computer, is associated with a decreased risk of dementia.

and from a study JAMA Network OpenA study published in July 2023 found that frequent engagement in activities that challenge the brain, including journaling, playing chess, and solving crossword puzzles, was associated with a lower risk of developing dementia in older adults.

View the original article here Medical News Today


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