Being into Dementia care, we already are aware about the role that parasites may play in providing protection against developing Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias. We know that the brain’s immune system can turn against itself: what evolved as a protective mechanism, can, under different circumstances, actually cause harm. Scientists have discovered that there is, in fact, something in the brain that plays an immensely important protective and beneficial role, but can also, under certain circumstances, cause damage—and they have linked it, possibly, to Alzheimer’s.
Alfredhouse memory care living has a new discovered a new development in the area of dementia care.
The new culprit in the search for the causes of Alzheimer’s is astrocytes. Astrocytes are star-shaped cells (hence their name “astrocytes”) that constitute an essential part of the central nervous system and are the most abundant cells in the brain. They perform a number of important functions, including: creating and maintaining synapses (links between brain cells); serving as the gatekeepers of the blood-brain barrier (which prevents toxins and other harmful elements from entering the brain through the blood supply); maintaining chemical balance; producing antioxidants (to counteract oxidative stress); controlling immune system responses to injury in the central nervous system, either triggering suppression of the immune system and facilitating tissue repair. Astrocytes release chemicals into the brain that are associated with memory and learning and the establishment of new connections between brain cells. One of the key functions of astrocytes is the control of the amount of glutamate around brain cells. Glutamate is a chemical that excites brain cells into communicating with each other. Too much glutamate and excessive excitation can be harmful to the brain cells, and it is the job of the astrocytes to keep glutamate at the right level but converting the excess glutamate to glutamine.
When amyloid-β plaques accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, an inflammation response is triggered through the brain’s immune system. The inflammation causes the astrocytes to go into action to clear away the amyloid plaques from the brain. In the process of reacting to the buildup of amyloid plaques, the astrocytes undergo various changes. One of these changes is that the astrocytes become less efficient at controlling the level of glutamate around the brain cells. What is more damaging, the amyloid plaques can actually cause the astrocytes to release glutamate that they has already taken in for reprocessing into glutamine. High levels of glutamate surrounding the brain cells cause overactivation of the cells, and this results in cell damage and even cell death. It is this damage and death of brain cells that is responsible for the memory loss and other cognitive impairments experienced by Alzheimer’s patients.
Researchers are now looking into the possibility of developing drugs that will target astrocytes—and, in particular, their mechanisms for controlling glutamate levels. Of the more than 1,000 drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, more than 20 have been shown to be effective in stimulating the astrocyte mechanism to control glutamate levels.
This is a new approach to the treatment of Alzheimer’s and can be a breakthrough in dementia care. It shifts the focus away from the amyloid plaques and tau tangles to astrocytes. Early findings of this approach look extremely promising, and with further research and human clinical trials, it is very likely that a breakthrough will be made in the quest to find an effective treatment for this widespread and devasting Alzheimer’s disease.
While this was good news, we at Alfredhouse always make sure that you spend your old age in the best manner, with avant-garde facilities and medical support. If you are looking for memory care living homes nearby, your search ends here. To know more about us, log onto: http://alfredhouse.com/