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Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)

  • first described by Alois Alzheimer in 1907

  • the most common type of dementia accounting for 50-60% of all dementias [1]

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  • there is an abnormal processing of the amyloid precursor protein in the brain cells  which leads to the accumulation of beta amyloid and the formation of neuritic plaques (shown here) that cause cell death [1]

     

  • neurofibrillary tangles are also present as a result of abnormal tau protein production (hyper-phosphorylation of tau protein) which impede the delivery of neurotransmitters along the axons and cause cell death [1]

  • widespread cortical atrophy is associated with the above changes; the medial temporal lobes are particularly affected in AD

  • there are 2 types of AD:  1) sporadic type which is the  most common form that occurs after the age of 65 and accounts for 90-95% of all cases and 2) familial autosomal dominant  type which occurs as early as age 30 and accounts for 5-10% of all cases [2]

  • common signs and symptoms include memory loss, language deficits, decreased executive functioning and personality changes

  • for more information on living with AD, click on Alzheimer’s Society Website 

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1. Dugue M, Neugroschl J, Sewell M, Marin D. Review of dementia. Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine 2003; 70:45-53.

2. Alzheimer Society of Canada. Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias (http://www.alzheimer.ca/english/disease/dementias-intro.htm)

All references for this section