Alzheimer’s Facts & Findings
Facts- Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain’s nerve cells, or neurons, resulting in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes.
These neurons, which produce the brain chemical, or neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, break connections with other nerve cells and ultimately die. For example, short-term memory fails when Alzheimer’s disease first destroys nerve cells in the hippocampus, and language skills and judgment decline when neurons die in the cerebral cortex.
Two types of abnormal lesions clog the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease: Beta-amyloid plaques—sticky clumps of protein fragments and cellular material that form outside and around neurons; and neurofibrillary tangles—insoluble twisted fibers composed largely of the protein tau that build up inside nerve cells. Although these structures are hallmarks of the disease, scientists are unclear whether they cause it or a byproduct of it.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, or loss of intellectual function, among people aged 65 and older. Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging.
(Source: Alzheimer’s Foundation of America)
Findings- Researchers from the University of South Florida’s Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute report in an article published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, that extremely low doses of THC reduce the production of amyloid beta, and prevent abnormal accumulation of this sticky protein. Low concentrations of THC has also shown to selectively enhanced mitochondrial function, to aid in supplying energy, transmitting signals, and maintaining a healthy brain.
“THC is known to be a potent antioxidant with neuroprotective properties, but this is the first report that the compound directly affects Alzheimer’s pathology by decreasing amyloid beta levels, inhibiting its aggregation, and enhancing mitochondrial function,”
Said study lead author Chuanhai Cao, Ph.D. and a neuroscientist at the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute and the USF College of Pharmacy.
“Decreased levels of amyloid beta means less aggregation, which may protect against the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Since THC is a natural and relatively safe amyloid inhibitor, THC or its analogs may help us develop an effective treatment in the future.”