Amyloid is an insoluble fibrous protein aggregates and has a tendency to get accumulated in neurons of people as young as 20 years of age.
The study conducted at Northwestern University suggested that this is the first time amyloid accumulation has been shown in such young human brains. It's long been known that amyloid accumulates and forms clumps of plaque outside neurons in aging adults and in Alzheimer's.
Lead investigator Changiz Geula, research professor at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said that discovering that amyloid begins to accumulate so early in life is unprecedented and they know that amyloid, when present for long periods of time, was bad for one.
Scientists found amyloid molecules began accumulating inside these neurons in young adulthood and continued throughout the lifespan. Nerve cells in other areas of the brain did not show the same extent of amyloid accumulation. The amyloid molecules in these cells formed small toxic clumps, amyloid oligomers, which were present even in individuals in their 20's and other normal young individuals. The size of the clumps grew larger in older individuals and those with Alzheimer's.
Geula said that this points to why these neurons died early and the small clumps of amyloid may be a key reason and the lifelong accumulation of amyloid in these neurons likely contributes to the vulnerability of these cells to pathology in aging and loss in Alzheimer's. The study was published in the journal Brain.