For a number of years now, scientists are debating whether humans are the only animal capable of developing Alzheimers disease. But now it is looking more likely we share this attribute with all our closest evolutionary relative, the chimpanzee.
Researchers from the Raghanti lab in Kent State University, Ohio were given the chance to research 20 brains of chimpanzees that died of old age. In chimp decades, thats between 37 and 62 decades. The study, part of this dissertation study of Melissa Edler, will be printed in an upcoming edition of this journal Neurobiology of Aging.
Within the researchers’ samples, there have been exactly the exact same physical signs you expect to find in a human anatomy with Alzheimers disease, such as the presence of beta-amyloid plaques and tangles. Among these chimps, 13 had amyloid plaques and 4’d tangles. The quantities of plaques were also considerably greater as the chimps got mature.
In people, these plaques and tangles are the prime suspects for cell death and tissue loss in the brains of people with Alzheimers disease. It starts with the buildup of sticky bits of protein, known as amyloid beta peptides, between the brain cells. Finally, this prompts tau proteins within the mind to collapse into twisted strands, known as tangles, which causes the neurons to die.
A recent research, in 2008, found that the first conclusive signs of Alzheimer’s-associated signs (plaques and tangles) in a chimpanzee. But this analysis was predicated on the mind of one chimp who died of a stroke, which could perhaps explain the presence of thesetangles.
While most of the indications are still there, the study didn’t show whether they are associated with different symptoms we find in people, for example cognitive loss, memory issues, disorientation, mood swings, etc..
“The elderly chimpanzee brains had been gathered during the past couple decades and had been from individuals housed at different zoos and research institutions. Therefore, we didn’t have cognitive information for these folks,”researcher Mary Ann Raghanti of Kent State University informed IFLScience.
“Past work did locate at least moderate cognitive deficits in elderly chimpanzees, but more work is needed.”
Raghanti stated the next step was collect cognitive information from chimpanzees now in captivity, since they age. “This information can then be compared with brain pathology scores following their deaths. Significantly, these cognitive data can be gathered as part of enrichment for chimpanzees that benefit their health and well-being.”
At least 46.8 million people are living with dementia as well as with the world facing an ever-aging populace, that number is forecasted to double every 20 decades. Worse still, a remedy is still a fair way off. But, even study on non-human species like thiscould help dig deeper into the root cause and underlying mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease among people and other primates alike.
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