Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that is the most common cause of dementia among older adults. The disease is characterized by the gradual decline in cognitive function, impairing memory, reasoning, and behavioral abilities, severely impacting daily living and independence. The exact etiology of Alzheimer's remains largely unknown, but it is believed to result from a complex interplay of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Pathologically, Alzheimer's is marked by the presence of amyloid-beta plaques and tau protein tangles in the brain, leading to neuronal damage and loss.
These pathological hallmarks are associated with a cascade of neurobiological changes, including synaptic dysfunction, neuroinflammation, and oxidative stress, contributing to the progressive nature of the disease. Clinically, AD begins with mild memory loss, often progressing to severe impairments in cognition, executive function, language, and visuospatial skills. Behavioral changes, such as depression, apathy, social withdrawal, and agitation, are also common.
Diagnosis is primarily clinical, supported by neuroimaging techniques like MRI and PET scans, and biomarker analysis from cerebrospinal fluid. While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer's, available treatments focus on managing symptoms and improving quality of life. This includes cholinesterase inhibitors, NMDA receptor antagonists, and supportive interventions like cognitive therapy, behavioral management, and caregiver support.
Recent research is directed towards understanding the genetic and molecular basis of AD, identifying biomarkers for early detection, and developing disease-modifying therapies. Advances in neuroimaging and biomarkers offer the potential for earlier diagnosis and more targeted therapeutic strategies. Additionally, there is a growing emphasis on preventive measures, including lifestyle modifications, to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's, underscoring the importance of a holistic approach in managing this complex and debilitating disease.
Gut Inflammation Linked to Alzheimer's Disease, Yet Again. [L]
Heston, M.B., Hanslik, K.L., Zarbock, K.R. et al. Gut inflammation associated with age and Alzheimer’s disease pathology: a human cohort study. Sci Rep 13, 18924 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-45929-z [L]