Early Diagnosis Of Alzheimer’s Disease: A Look Into Biomarkers

3751 words - 15 pages

Alzheimer's disease is a form of dementia that is nonreversible and develops over a period of years that affects mostly the elderly population. Alzheimer's disease can be mistaken for normal aging but personality and behavior changes sets Alzheimer's disease apart. Although Alzheimer's disease is considered an aged disease, it has been documented to affect people before the age of 65. This is termed early onset Alzheimer's disease which accounts for 5-10% of all Alzheimer's disease. Statistics conducted by the Alzheimer's Association estimates that 5.3 million people have Alzheimer's disease with an annual cost for medical care of 172 billion dollars [2]. The impact of Alzheimer’s disease on American society has caused Social Security to change its guidelines for "Compensation Allowance" for individuals affected by the Alzheimer's disease [2]. Early detection for Alzheimer's disease is needed to alleviate the social, economical and financial burden tasked to family members and caregivers of Alzheimer's disease patients along with early treatment of AD patients.
Current treatment for Alzheimer’s disease includes drug therapy such as cholinesterase inhibitors, a drug that supports communication among nerve cells which leads to memory improvement, and Memantine, another memory enhancing drug which regulates glutamate activity. The table below list a few drugs of the category above by generic and brand names.

Non drug treatment includes counseling of patients and family members of the possible mental changes and what can be done to ease the transition. Environmental changes and daily habits can be altered to reduce any obstacles associated with dementia and cognitive exercises can be performed by patients to help improve mental statues.

Current methods of diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease in patients have been based on criteria setup by National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke and the Alzheimer's disease and Related Disorders Association (NINCDA-ADRDA) [4]. The criterion only requires that the presence of cognitive impairment and suspect of dementia be confirmed with neuropsychological testing [5]. The only conclusive method to diagnose Alzheimer's disease is by post mortem autopsy of the brain and the direct observation of the physiological changes such as senile plaques and Neuron Fiber Tangles.

Histopathologic image of senile plaques seen in the cerebral cortex in a patient with onset of Alzheimer disease. Bowdian stain. 4 February 2006 User:KGH GFDL-self [16]

Histopathologically, Alzheimer's disease consists of physiological changes to the brain where abnormal formation of senile plaques composed of beta-amyloid proteins can cause blockage of neuron signaling at the synapses [2]. Tau proteins, which are microtubule associated, are naturally found in the brain and take part in the nutrient transport network in the brain. The degeneration of Tau proteins creates congregates...

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