Friday, June 14, 2024

‘Super neurons’ allow older adults to retain better memory

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
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  • Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive loss of memory and certain intellectual functions that leads to repercussions in activities of daily living.
  • 55.2 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s disease or a related disease, according to the World Health Organization.

Old age does not always coincide with memory loss, on the contrary! In fact, some people aged 80 or over retain an exceptional ability to remember information…and it may be greater than that of young adults aged 20-30.

Researchers from Northwestern Medicine in the US looked at this question and found that these people “super neurons“In the area of ​​the brain responsible for memory. Called the entorhinal cortex, this area is one of the first places that Alzheimer’s disease targets.

these “super neuronsIt is present in the brain from birth

According to the study published in Neuroscience Journalthese “super neurons“Longer, healthier, and relatively free of the tangle of tau, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

These neurons are a true biological fingerprint, the authors conclude:

The fascinating observation that these people showed larger neurons than their peers when they were younger may indicate that the larger cells have been present from birth and have persisted structurally throughout their lives.Lead author Tamar Geffen, MD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University School of Medicine, said.

To do their work, the scientists scanned the brains of 13 people aged 80 or older (six of whom had exceptional memory and seven who had mediocre cognition), six young adults and five people with early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Then they measured the size of neurons in the second layer of the inner spinal cortex. This layer in particular receives information from other memory centers and is a very specific and crucial hub for memory circuits in the brain. They also measured and compared the presence of tau synapses in these neurons.

Tau tangles are a biomarker of Alzheimer’s disease

Their findings suggest that neurons rescued from tau synapse formation can maintain their structural integrity, that is, remain healthy and large. The opposite also appears to be true: tau tangles can cause neurons to shrink, which appears to be a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease in which memory abilities in old age are impaired.

Identification of this contributing factor (and all of the contributing factors) is critical for early recognition of Alzheimer’s disease, monitoring of its course, and treatment guidance.Tamar Geffen concluded.

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