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Protein Association with Alzheimer's Disease

Info: 1365 words (5 pages) Essay
Published: 9th Nov 2021 in Physiology

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Proteins are the most multifaceted macromolecules in life that are responsible for many functions in the human body. The cells in our body create proteins by bonding together making chemical building blocks which are called amino acids also known as peptides. Just 20 amino acids are used to create a protein; however, others can be made up of thousands. Amino acids are created in a way that each protein has a distinct 3-dimensional shape. Some examples include but are not limited to Keratin, a hair protein and Hemoglobin, which carries oxygen throughout the body. Overall, proteins are required for sustaining life because our bodies use them to build and repair tissues. They are also important for bones, muscles, skin and blood. Tau is a protein found in neurons that stabilizes microtubules in our body but is also linked to the disease known as Alzheimer’s.

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Studies have shown that Alzheimer’s is caused by the buildup of two proteins in the brain. Tau is a protein found in all of us which helps maintain the internal nerve cells in the brain. Tau’s job is to make sure microtubules are stabilized, but when they become faulty and do not sustain microtubules this is when Alzheimer’s disease can evolve (Dr. Ananya Mandal, MD 2019). Tau can form tangles in areas of the brain responsible for memory. In healthy areas strands that are straight convey information to cells. Abnormal Tau proteins can stick on to other Tau proteins inside of nerve cells or neurons which form Tau tangles; strands can no longer stay straight so they are destroyed, this is what disrupts normal cell function. Amyloid proteins which the body produces normally can also cause Tau accumulations, which in turn are shown to cause brain cell damage and Alzheimer’s in patients. In a healthy brain, Beta-Amyloid protein which is basically a smaller part of the Amyloid protein are broken down and destroyed, if not a buildup of these Beta-Amyloid proteins then clump together between neurons which are found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Studies have also exhibited that the stress in the brain cell’s Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) where proteins are made may cause tau tangles or abnormal tau.

Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. There are many misconceptions that Alzheimer’s is related to “old age” but is not a normal part of aging. The disease affects most Americans from the age of 65 and older, although studies have shown people under the age of 65 can be diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. In the beginning stages, people with the disease experience memory loss and difficulty with thinking and planning. Later stages include problems speaking, writing or understanding. Severe Alzheimer’s can ultimately lead to death; this is when the brain shrinks because most cells are destroyed. A common early sign of Alzheimer’s is difficulty remembering new information that was recently learnt because the disease starts in the part of the brain that affects learning. Other signs of Alzheimer’s include, not being able to sleep, changes in personality such as agitation and anxiety, delusions, paranoia, difficulty speaking and writing, confusion about time and place and poor judgment and reasoning.

Alzheimer’s disease is usually diagnosed by a primary doctor or a neurologist. Most of the time a person’s medical history and mental health are evaluated. Mental status testing includes simple exercises such as memorizing words, counting backwards and copying designs that are all used by a physician to assess memory, language skills and comprehension. Lab tests or brain imaging scans are also done to analyze a patient. MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and CT (Computed Tomography) scans are the general types of tests done to diagnose a patient with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. Tau inflation or Amyloids cannot be found with blood testing but a PET (Position Emission Tomography) scan can measure the amount of these proteins. Tau proteins can exist in smaller versions called oligomers which are just a couple of Tau proteins. These oligomers interfere with cellular function and are found in brains that are developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease; however there are many drugs approved by the FDA to treat symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. A few of the medications are known as Cholinesterase Inhibitors. These drugs work in different ways but overall help with memory and learning in the brain. Healthy lifestyle habits such as exercise and proper diet consisting of many fruits and vegetables can help in preventing Alzheimer’s. Suggestions also include getting enough sleep on a daily basis and incorporating cognitive stimulating activities such as thinking or brain games to help in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. In 2019, researchers have been looking into different ways to stop the Tau protein from forming tangles. Clinical trials show AADvac1 which is a vaccine that triggers the body’s immune system to attack the abnormal form of the Tau protein that causes problems in neurons; if successful it can stop the advancement of Alzheimer’s disease.

As you can see, Proteins play a very important role in the functions of our bodies. Proteins give our body energy that helps coordinate healthy bodily functions. They also act as transporters but are also like messengers that help communicate with the cells, tissues and organs in our bodies. Overall, proteins and peptides make up most of body’s hormones which help to keep our immune system strong to fight off infection and also to balance a proper pH. Tau and Amyloid proteins are specifically linked to Alzheimer’s disease. These proteins play a vital role in the development and treatment of this debilitating condition. The memory loss confusion and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease show how important these types of proteins and proteins in general are important to our life.

References

https://www.helpguide.org/harvard/recognizing-and-diagnosing-alzheimers.htm

https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/explainer-what-are-proteins

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/research/our-research/research-projects/how-does-tau-hallmark-alzheimers-disease-affect-connections-between-brain-cells

https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers

https://www.brightfocus.org/research/alzheimers-disease-research-program

https://ww https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers/brain_tour w.psychiatry.org/patient

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30605056

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5390006/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3353745/

https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2013/09/scientists-reveal-how-beta-amyloid-may-cause-alzheimers.html

https://medicine.wustl.edu/news/study-finds-link-two-key-alzheimers-proteins/

 

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