Synaptic Protein Makeup May Explain Why Not All People with Alzheimer’s Brain Markers Develop Dementia

Synaptic Protein Makeup May Explain Why Not All People with Alzheimer’s Brain Markers Develop Dementia
Scientists have discovered why some people who have brain markers of Alzheimer’s disease, such as protein plaques and tangles, do not develop dementia. The reason may lie in the structure of synapses — the points of contact between nerve cells that allow them to communicate. Findings were published in the study, “Postsynaptic proteome of non-demented individuals with Alzheimer’s disease neuropathology,” in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s is thought to be caused by the accumulation of plaques, composed of amyloid beta proteins, and neurofibrillary tangles, made up of tau proteins, within nerve cells. However, not all people with these brain markers of Alzheimer’s show signs of dementia during their lifetime. “In previous studies, we found that while the non-demented people with Alzheimer’s neuropathology had amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles just like the demented people did, the toxic amyloid beta and tau proteins did not accumulate at synapses, the point of communication between nerve cells,” Giulio Taglialatela, director of the Mitchell Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, said in a press release. “When nerve cells can’t communicate because of the buildup of the toxic proteins that disrupt synapse, thought and memory become im
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