Alzheimer's Disease Literature Review

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Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative brain disorder characterised by a progressive dementia which appears around mid to late life (McKhann et al., 1984). Alzheimer’s disease was first reported in 1909 by Alois Alzheimer as a “peculiar severe disease process of the cerebral cortex” (Hippius and Neundörfer, 2003). He noted that the disease consisted of “distinctive plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain histology” (ibid, 2003). Now the disease is estimated to effect 44.35 million people worldwide (Alzheimer’s Disease International, 2013) an understanding of the disease pathology has become paramount to ensure correct preventative measures, precise diagnosis and effective treatments. This literature aims to describe and explain …show more content…
These tangles are formed when a protein called ‘Tau’ is altered. In regular neurons Tau is used to stabilise the structures that are crucial to cells internal transport system. These structures known as microtubules are vital to brain functionality and are used for cellular cargo and nutrient transportation all over the neuron (Matsuyama and Jarvik, 1989). However, in Alzheimer’s disease and abnormal hyperphosphorylation form of tau separate from the microtubules causing these structures to collapse (Gong and Iqbal, 2008). The separated forms of Tau combine and create the neurofibrillary tangle. This process disables the transport system of the cell which leads to insufficient nutrient availability within the cell, this intern leads to cell shrinkage and eventually cellular …show more content…
As the death of these cells due to Alzheimer’s is slow and progressive the stages of this disease and its progression can be observed and divided in to stages. Mild Alzheimer’s disease may appear as just age related symptoms such difficulty planning, organising or remembering names. Moderate Alzheimer’s however is when an accurate diagnosis can be made. Individuals at this point can start to forget personal details, have trouble controlling emotions, and suffer from confusion. In individuals which have progressed to a severe stages of Alzheimer’s disease, they can find themselves unable to recall their own history, difficulty communicating, and are vulnerable to infections such as; pneumonia. These stages of Alzheimer’s disease correlate to the amount of cellular damage to areas of the brain which control the particular cognitive functions such as; emotions, memory and coordination etc.
Alzheimer’s disease effects the brain in different ways but the causative factor is brain atrophy, research by (Thompson et al., 2003) showed a grey matter decrease of ~2.3% in Alzheimer’s patients per year, compared to 0.9% of the control. This brain atrophy can be seen by eye, brain gyri become narrower and sulci grooves between the gyri become wider. The ventricles increase in size as they contain more cerebrospinal fluid to counter the brain size loss, seen in

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