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What Causes Plaque In The Brain

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What Tests Diagnose Brain Lesions

What is Plaque and How to Remove it Explained By Dr.Berg

After a physical examination, the doctor may also recommend that the patient schedule a diagnostic test, such as a computed tomography, or CT or CAT scan, or magnetic resonance imaging, orMRI. These tests will help the doctor pinpoint the location of the lesion and will also help assess the extent of damage the lesion has caused the brain.

Computed tomography is a diagnostic image used to evaluate bone, blood and brain tissue. Sometimes, a medication is injected through the patients vein to help highlight brain structures. A CT scan uses radiation.

Magnetic resonance imaging is a diagnostic test that produces three-dimensional, or 3D, images of the inside of the body using magnetic fields and computer technology. It shows brain tissue detail as well as the brain stem, and cerebellum better than a CT scan. An MRI of the brain can help determine whether there are signs of prior mini-strokes. A medication can also be injected to help high light structures.

Dementia And Alzheimers: A Rising Crisis

Alzheimers is considered one of the greatest health challenges of the century. The fifth leading cause of death for those 65 years and older, Alzheimers affects an estimated 5.4 million Americans about 1 in 3 seniors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics predicts the number of U.S. patients diagnosed with Alzheimers will more than double to 9.1 million in the next 35 years.

As a research institution devoted to promoting lifelong health, USC has more than 70 researchers dedicated to the prevention, treatment and potential cure of Alzheimers disease. USC researchers across a range of disciplines are examining the health, societal and political effects and implications of the disease.

In the past decade, the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health has nearly doubled its investment in USC research. The investments include an Alzheimer Disease Research Center.

Nations lab at USC Dornsife is part of the multidisciplinary effort. He focuses on understanding cognitive decline associated with age-related changes in vascular structure and function. Vascular dementia is at the root of an estimated 10 percent of all Alzheimers cases, according to the Alzheimers Association.

Research Into Other Causes Of Dementia

Dementia is also associated with other conditions such as AIDS, Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, chronic alcohol abuse, Down Syndrome, Huntingtons disease and Parkinsons disease.

  • A genetic component has been found for a very rare subtype of Creutzfeld-Jakob disease.
  • Individuals with Down Syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21, which contains the gene for the Amyloid Precursor Protein, increasing their likelihood of developing Alzheimers disease.
  • Huntingtons disease is caused by a mutation in the gene that codes for the huntingtin protein. Everyone who inherits the mutated version of this gene will eventually develop the disease. Dementia occurs in the majority of cases.

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Acetylcholineyour Brains Messenger Molecule

This messenger molecule is the most abundant and essential neurotransmitter in the brain that is responsible for numerous functions, including many related to cognition and memory. Acetylcholine is released into the synapse, or space between two nerve cells, where it stimulates the transfer of nerve impulses from one nerve cell to another. After the nerve impulse is transmitted, acetylcholinesterasean enzyme that is found in nerve endingsbreaks down acetylcholine into choline and acetate, and the nerve signal ends.

Loss of acetylcholine function is a primary feature of several types of brain dysfunction, including Alzheimers disease. In Alzheimers disease and senile dementia, acetylcholine is destroyed too quickly, and consequently the nerve impulse is either too weak to be received or it is incompletely transmitted between nerve cells. A shortage of acetylcholine is considered the most common cause of memory loss, decreased learning ability, and intelligence. Eventually, the greatest amount of damage in the Alzheimers brain is in the cells using acetylcholine.4

A growing body of evidence suggests that there are a number of therapeutic nutraceuticals that are showing great promise in:

Alzheimers disease is increasing so fast that more than 22 million people worldwide will be affected by 2025, experts have warned.

A Whole New Hypothesis

More Doubt That Plaques in the Brain Cause Alzheimer

When science converges from multiple independent laboratories like this, it is very compelling, says Casey Lynch of Cortexyme, a pharmaceutical firm in San Francisco.

Now researchers from Cortexyme and several universities have reported finding the two toxic enzymes that P. gingivalis uses to feed on human tissue in 99 and 96 per cent of 54 human Alzheimers brain samples taken from the hippocampus a brain area important for memory . These protein-degrading enzymes are called gingipains, and they were found in higher levels in brain tissue that also had more tau fragments and thus more cognitive decline.

The team also found genetic material from P. gingivalis in the cerebral cortex a region involved in conceptual thinking in all three Alzheimers brains they looked for it in.

This is the first report showing P. gingivalis DNA in human brains, and the associated gingipains co-localising with plaques, says Sim Singhrao at the University of Central Lancashire, UK, who wasnt involved in the study. Her team has previously found that P. gingivalisactively invades the brains of mice with gum infections.

The Porphyromonas gingivalis bacteria that can cause gum disease

A. Dowsett, Public Health England/Science Photo Library

When the team gave P. gingivalis gum disease to mice, it led to brain infection, amyloid production, tangles of tau protein and neural damage in the regions and nerves normally affected by Alzheimers. This suggests causation, says Lynch.

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Why Some Foods Induce Memory Loss

The brain needs its own brand of fuel. It requires healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and adequate vitamins and minerals. Consuming too little of these foods and too many complex carbohydrates, processed foods and sugar stimulates the production of toxins in the body. Those toxins can lead to inflammation, the build-up of plaques in the brain and, as a result, impaired cognitive function.

These effects apply to people of all ages, not just seniors.

How Are Brain Lesions Treated

Treatment varies in each individual case depending on the type of lesion, its location, and cause. It is important that a thorough examination be completed by a doctor to develop the appropriate treatment plan.

The treatment options depend on the type of lesions and severity of symptoms. Usually medicines can be used to treat the underlying cause. Surgery may be an option in some cases, such as when the lesions are caused by a brain tumor.

Sometimes, lesions and symptoms dont improve even after appropriate diagnosis and proper treatment and the goal is to manage symptoms.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/07/2018.


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What Are The Symptoms Of Brain Lesions

Symptoms of brain lesions vary depending on the type of lesion, its extent, and where it is found. Everyone is different and symptoms will vary in individual cases. Many lesions, however, may be in areas of the brain that dont produce symptoms.

Typical symptoms may include:

  • Headaches are usually the first symptom to appear with brain lesions. The pain appears suddenly and worsens as time passes. Over-the-counter medicine usually offers no relief for the pain.
  • Nausea and possible vomiting
  • Impaired movement, if the lesion affects the part of the brain responsible for motor skills
  • Lack of concentration, the inability to make quick decisions, and agitation
  • Delayed speech, blurred vision, and impaired hearing
  • Involuntary movements of body parts, which may progress to convulsions in severe cases

The following symptoms are specific to lesions of the frontal lobe:

  • Absence of sense of smell, usually limited to one nostril
  • Speech impairment
  • Loss of motor activity on one or both sides of the body
  • Behavioral changes

The following symptoms are specific to lesions of the temporal lobe:

  • A change in behavior and emotions
  • Disruption in the sense of smell, taste, and hearing
  • Language and speech disorders
  • Problems with field of vision
  • Forgetfulness and the inability to focus

The following symptoms are specific to lesions of the parietal lobe:

  • Loss of sensations like touch
  • Astereognosis, or the inability to identity things placed in the hand
  • Weakening of language development
  • Changes in vision

What Is A Brain Stroke

Plaques Cause Increases in Calcium in the Brain (3 of 3)

The human brain is a complex organ which depends on continuous blood supply. A disruption in blood-flow can cut vital oxygen and glucose to the brain and lead to brain death within a couple of minutes.

Stroke is a medical condition where the blood supply to a portion of the brain decreases or gets severely interrupted. It is a medical emergency wherein the cells of the brain start dying within minutes of being deprived of nutrients and oxygen due to the restriction of blood supply. The inability of brain cells to regenerate results in permanent damage and irreversible consequences.

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Causes Of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease is thought to be caused by the abnormal build-up of 2 proteins called amyloid and tau.

Deposits of amyloid, called plaques, build up around brain cells. Deposits of tau form “tangles” within brain cells.

Researchers do not fully understand how amyloid and tau are involved in the loss of brain cells, but research into this is continuing.

As brain cells become affected in Alzheimer’s, there’s also a decrease in chemical messengers involved in sending messages, or signals, between brain cells.

Levels of 1 neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, are particularly low in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Medicines like donepezil increase levels of acetylcholine, and improve brain function and symptoms.

These treatments are not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but they do help improve symptoms.

Read more about treatments for dementia.

The symptoms that people develop depend on the areas of the brain that have been damaged by the disease.

The hippocampus is often affected early on in Alzheimer’s disease. This area of the brain is responsible for laying down new memories. That’s why memory problems are one of the earliest symptoms in Alzheimer’s.

Unusual forms of Alzheimer’s disease can start with problems with vision or with language.

Read more about Alzheimer’s disease.

How Does The Brain Work

The brain controls thoughts, memory, speech, movements of the limbs, and organ function. There are many parts to the brain, and each section has a specific role to play in the human body.

Four lobes make up the brain:

Frontal lobe – the largest of the four lobes, is responsible for the bodys motor skills, such as voluntary movement, language, and intellectual and behavioral functions. This area controls memory, intelligence, concentration, temper and personality.

Temporal lobe – located on each side of the brain at ear level, is important for hearing, memory and speech.

Parietal lobe – at the center of the brain, is where sensory information like heat, pressure and pain is received and interpreted.

Occipital lobe – found at the back of the brain, is primarily responsible for vision.

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Loss Of Neuronal Connections And Cell Death

In Alzheimers disease, as neurons are injured and die throughout the brain, connections between networks of neurons may break down, and many brain regions begin to shrink. By the final stages of Alzheimers, this processcalled brain atrophyis widespread, causing significant loss of brain volume.

Learn more about Alzheimer’s disease from MedlinePlus.

Take Part In Dementia Research

Lifestyle choices reduce plaques and tangles

There are many dementia research projects and clinical trials going on around the world, many of which are based in the UK.

If you have a dementia diagnosis or are worried about memory problems, you can help scientists understand more about it, and develop possible treatments, by taking part in research.

Carers can also take part, as there are studies into the best ways to care for someone with a dementia diagnosis.

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Abnormal Buildup In The Brain

The buildup of two abnormal structures in the brain, called amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, is common in AD. The buildup may be part of the cause, although scientists are unclear about if these findings could be the result of the disease instead.

Amyloid plaques are clumps of beta-amyloid, a piece of a protein that is found in the normal brain. When these beta-amyloid proteins clump together, they form plaques that can disrupt communication between nerve cells and cause brain inflammation. People with AD have an abundance of these plaques in the hippocampus, the part of the brain involved in memory. The transfer of short-term memories into long-term memories is often disrupted in AD. Learn about other symptoms of Alzheimers disease.

Neurofibrillary tangles are fibrous tangles of an abnormal protein called tau. Tau is an important fiber-like protein that keeps microtubules in the brain stable. Microtubules move nutrients, molecules, and information to other cells. When tau is harmfully altered, possibly due to genetic mutation, the fibers get twisted up together. This makes the microtubules unstable and causes them to disintegrate. This effect can collapse the whole neuron transport system.

Alzheimers Researchers Seethe Over Years Of Missteps After Latest Drug Failure

Since 2012, US health regulators have approved three molecular tracers that bind to amyloid and can be used to visualize it via PET or other neuroimaging, which costs from $3,000 to $7,000 and is not covered by Medicare. Some experts have called for screening everyone older than about 50 for signs of amyloid. But even before this study, research as far back as 1991 showed that many people have amyloid plaques in the brain but have no symptoms of cognitive decline or Alzheimers disease, according to the Alzheimers Association.

Scans can therefore give false positives, said Perry, a longtime skeptic of the idea that amyloid plaques are the chief cause of Alzheimers. The value of the tests as a public health measure is questionable, he said, and the Alzheimers Association does not recommend their routine use to diagnose the disease.

Geulas team studied the brains of eight people older than 90 who were part of the 90+ Study at the University of California, Irvine. Soon before their deaths, the volunteers scored extremely high on memory tests compared to 90-somethings with a normal score. After they died, their brains were scrutinized for telltale signs of Alzheimers.

Three had the characteristic amyloid plaques and tau tangles. But cells in the memory-forming hippocampus and the higher-order-thinking frontal cortex were relatively intact, somehow withstanding the toxic effects of amyloid and tau. The search is on for whats protecting them.

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How Is Vascular Dementia Diagnosed

In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, your healthcare provider may order some of the following:

  • Computed tomography . This imaging test uses X-rays and a computer to make horizontal, or axial images of the brain. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.
  • FDG-PET scan. This is a PET scan of the brain that uses a special tracer to light up regions of the brain.
  • Electroencephalogram . This test measures electrical activity in the brain
  • Magnetic resonance imaging . This test uses large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to make detailed images of the brain.
  • Neuropsychological assessments. These tests can help sort out vascular dementia from other types of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
  • Neuropsychiatric evaluation. This may be done to rule out a psychiatric condition that may resemble dementia.

Tangles And Cell Death

Amyloid Plaques – A Definition (1 of 11)

In normal brain tissue, a protein called tau stabilizes microtubules. Microtubules are key parts of cell structure.

In a diseased brain, protein strands, or threads, become tangled. As a result, the brain system of transporting cell nutrients along parallel structures which can be compared to railroad tracks falls apart.

Without these critical nutrients, brain cells die.

Memory and thinking depend on the transmission of signals across 100 billion neurons in the brain.

AD interferes with this cell signal transmission. It also affects the activity of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.

The scrambled chemistry produces flawed signaling, so the brains messages are lost. This impacts the ability to learn, remember, and communicate.

Microglia are a type of cell that initiate immune responses in the brain and spinal cord. When AD is present, microglia interpret the beta-amyloid plaque as cell injury.

The microglia go into overdrive, stimulating inflammation that further damages brain cells.

Some AD research focuses on how this inflammatory response can be reduced or controlled.

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Cholesterol Drives Alzheimers Plaque Formation Study Finds

Amyloid plaques form among neurons in Alzheimer’s disease. New research suggests cholesterol plays a key role.

Cholesterol manufactured in the brain appears to play a key role in the development of Alzheimers disease, new research indicates.

Scientists from the School of Medicine and their collaborators found that cholesterol produced by cells called astrocytes is required for controlling the production of amyloid beta, a sticky protein that builds up in the brains of patients with Alzheimers. The protein accumulates into insoluble plaques that are a hallmark of the disease. Many efforts have targeted these plaques in the hope that removing or preventing them could treat or prevent Alzheimers.

The new findings offer important insights into how and why the plaques form and may explain why genes associated with cholesterol have been linked to increased risk for Alzheimers. The results also provide scientists with important direction as they seek to prevent Alzheimers from developing.

This study helps us to understand why genes linked to cholesterol are so important to the development of Alzheimers disease, said researcher Heather A. Ferris, MD, PhD, of UVAs Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism. Our data point to the importance of focusing on the production of cholesterol in astrocytes and the transport to neurons as a way to reduce amyloid beta and prevent plaques from ever being formed.

What Are Brain Lesions

Brain lesions are a type of damage to any part of brain. Lesions can be due to disease, trauma or a birth defect. Sometimes lesions appear in a specific area of the brain. At other times, the lesions are present in a large part of the brain tissue. At first, brain lesions may not produce any symptoms. As lesions worsen with time, the symptoms become more noticeable.

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