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Study Investigates Link Between Apathy And Progression Of Alzheimer’s

Jul, 2022

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New study hypothesized degeneration in the nucleus accumbens in a brain part may cause apathy, which is the earliest psychological sign of the disease

Alzheimer’s disease affects numerous individuals all over the world. It is caused by an abnormal protein build up in and around brain cells. Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine found a degenerative mechanism that may explain how symptoms like apathy are the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s. According to the research published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry on February 02, 2022, the findings of this research suggest that disrupting this mechanism may slow down the progression of the disease.

In this new study, the team of scientists reported a new degenerative mechanism in engineered animals with Alzheimer’s disease. The team discovered that when parts of nucleus accumbens get exposed to amyloid protein aggregations, it triggered an unknown degenerative process. Furthermore, the team found that specific receptors known as synaptic calcium permeable receptors (CP-AMPARs) were key to this procedure. These receptors normally are not found in this brain part however, they can be seen when synapses in the nucleus accumbens got exposed to the toxic proteins that were associated with progression of the diseases in earlier studies.

These CP-AMPARs let the calcium enter into neurons. In these animal studies the team discovered that this calcium overload eventually caused neuronal damage and this damage likely is the reason behind apathy and motivational issues signaling the earliest phase of Alzheimer’s disease. The study is still in its earlier phase, however, according to the current hypothesis, preventing this early neuronal damage could help to slow down progression of the disease or it could also prevent spread of the disease to other brain parts. If this mechanism is verified and blocked in humans with the help of therapeutics, it could become a potential way to prevent Alzheimer’s-related dementia.

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