Zinc Imbalance in Brains of Alzheimer’s Patients

Zinc Imbalance in Brains of Alzheimer’s Patients 

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A combination of researchers from Harvard, Boston University, The Universities of Alberta and Arizona and The Chopra Foundation have looked at patients with Alzheimer’s disease  and believe that the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease, is due to the disruption of microtubules because of zinc imbalances.

The crucial role of zinc in the brain has been researched extensively recently, including research from Duke University Medical Center and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), published at the start of 2012 which found that zinc was vital in helping brain functions – in enabling effective communications between neurons.

(The research, published in the journal Neuron, showed how important zinc is in ensuring efficient cognitive stability and in helping with memory formation. Removing zinc leads to problems with communications; improving the levels of zinc to the brain significantly restored communications in the hippocampal region of the brain, which lead to an improvement in learning and memory capabilities.)

It is known that the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease suffer from two key problems (lesions). The first problem concerns the beta-amyloid plaques - outside neurons - and the second, the neurofibrillary tangles within them.

Excess beta-amyloid plaques around these microtubules induce tangles and disrupt microtubules, causing loss of memory.

The research – published in the journal PLoS One – shows the crucial role of zinc in the brain once again and senior author, R.E. Tanzi explained:

“It looks like beta-amyloid plaques themselves aren’t destructive directly, but lead to lower zinc levels within neurons. This in turn disrupts microtubules and tau, causing tangles and memory loss. Protecting microtubules and their association with tau may be the best treatment approach in Alzheimers disease.”

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