Causes of Alzheimer's Disease


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Cause details for Alzheimer's Disease: The risk of developing AD increases with age, but AD and dementia symptoms are not a part of normal aging. AD and other dementing disorders in old age are caused by diseases. In the absence of a disease, the human brain often can function well into the tenth decade of life and beyond. 1

Two abnormal structures in the brain have long been known as hallmarks of AD: amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Plaques are dense deposits of an amyloid protein (called beta-amyloid), other associated proteins, and non-nerve cells that gradually build up outside and around neurons. Amyloid is a generic name for protein fragments that aggregate (collect or mass together) in a specific way to form insoluble deposits. The fragments can arise from different mechanisms. Neurofibrillary tangles are insoluble twisted fibers that build up inside neurons. Much progress has been made in determining the makeup of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles and in proposing mechanisms that could account for their buildup in AD. 1

One longstanding theory of aging suggests that the buildup of damage from oxidative processes in neurons causes a loss of function. Scientists believe that free radicals produced through oxidative mechanisms play a role in several diseases, including cancer and AD. 1

Alzheimer's Disease as a complication: Other conditions that might have Alzheimer's Disease as a complication might be potential underlying causes of Alzheimer's Disease. The list of conditions listing Alzheimer's Disease as a complication in our database includes:

Causes of Alzheimer's Disease: medical news summaries: The following medical news items are relevant to causes of Alzheimer's Disease:

Related information for causes of Alzheimer's Disease: Further relevant information on causes of Alzheimer's Disease may be found in the risk factors for Alzheimer's Disease and underlying causes of Alzheimer's Disease.

Footnotes:
1. excerpt from NIA's Progress Report on Alzheimer's Disease, 1998: NIA

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