Michael Mullan’s A Journey Through the Effects of Alzheimer’s on the Brain Part-3

11 Understanding Plaques 

Plaques are formed when pieces of protein known as beta-amyloid join together. Beta-amyloid is located in larger proteins normally found within the fatty membrane around the nerve cells. 
Beta-amyloid is a sticky in a chemical sense and slowly builds up in the plaques. 
Groups of beta-amyloids of a few pieces or more could be more damaging than the actual plaques. These clumps could inhibit signalling between cells and the synapses. They could also be activating immune system cells which are triggering inflammation and devouring disabled cells. 

12 Understanding tangles 

Tangles are the cause of destruction within essential cell transport systems made up of proteins. The electron microscope images illustrates a cell with hea beta-amyloid Michael Mullanlthy areas along with zones where tangles are beginning to form. 

In the healthy area: 
The transportation system is organized in parallel strands much like railway tracks. Cell parts, food molecules and other essential materials move along these “tracks” 
Proteins called tau help the track to remain straight 
In regions where the tangles are formed: 
Tau proteins collapse into tangles – the twisted strands 
The tracks cannot stay straight, instead the disintegrate and fall apart 
Nutrients and other important supplies cannot move between the cells so they eventually die. 

13 How it Progresses through the brain 







Tangles and plaques (indicated by the blue areas) are typically spread throughout the cortex in a fairly predictable pattern as the progression of Alzheimer’s sets in. 

Progression rates vary greatly with some people living an average of just eight years, while others can live for as much as 20 years. The progression rates depend on various factors, including the age when the person is diagnosed and also if they have other existing health problems. 

Early Alzheimer’s – changes could occur anywhere up to 20 years prior to diagnosis. 
Mild Alzheimer’s – in general lasts between two to 10 years. 
Severe Alzheimer’s – can last between one to five years. 

14 Alzheimer’s in its Earliest Stages 

In the earliest Alzheimer’s stages, prior to symptoms being detected with current testing, tangles and plaques start to form in areas of the brain associated with: 

Memory and learning 
Planning and thinking 

15 Mild Alzheimer’s 

In the mild to moderate period, the areas of the brain essential for thinking, planning and memory develop more tangles and plaques than were evident in the early stages. Due to this, individuals can develop problems with thinking and memory that are severe enough to create issues with their normal social and work life. The can become confused and have issues with handling money, collecting their thoughts and expressing themselves. Many people that have Alzheimer’s are initially diagnosed in this stage. 

Tangles and plaques can also spread into areas associated with: 

Speech and interpreting speech 
Your sense of spatial awareness 

As the disease progresses, people can experience a change in behavior and personality while they can also have issues recognizing family members or friends. 

16 Alzheimer’s in severe stages 

Once Alzheimer’s is advanced the majority of the cortex is damaged significantly. The brain size shrinks a great deal following widespread cell death. People with Alzheimer’s lose the ability to recognize their family and friends, the ability to communicate and to take care of themselves.

Read previous chapters Here


35 responses to “Michael Mullan’s A Journey Through the Effects of Alzheimer’s on the Brain Part-3

  1. Another great overview. Very easy to understand way of how Alzheimer’s progresses. I am going to share this on a couple of sites.

  2. Quite the informative series you have going on here. Certainly makes it a lot easier to understand what is going on. I like your use of diagrams and charts, they really help.

  3. I am finding this info quite interesting as we have lost two family members to this dreaded disease.

  4. I found the information here very thorough and coherent. It’s good to have knowledge, so we can overcome the disease.

  5. It was a very interesting read, I like the organization structure you used.

  6. Alzheimers is a very serious disease, thanks for the information about it. It was well well organized and well edited.

  7. This article was very informative. It really gives me a better understanding of Alzheimer and it’s devastating effects

  8. This was a very informative article. It really gives me a better understanding of Alzheimer’s and it’s devastating effects

  9. I lost my grandmother to this disease. It is interesting to know what she went through.

  10. I have relatives that have this disease. The information given here is very useful in terms of understanding how the disease operates at different stages.

  11. Shasta McAnally Martin

    This is a great informative article about the disease. Maybe it’ll help more people understand it better.

  12. Very Informative. I think everyone should read this and become informed of how serious this disease is. The graphs made it easier for me. Thank You

  13. Quite the useful series you have going on here. Certainly makes it a lot less difficult to understand what is going on. I like your use of designs and charts, they really help.

  14. Thank you for making it so easy to understand. I’ve been doing a lot of research since a family member was recently diagnosed and it’s very confusing. This article cleared a lot of things up for me.

  15. Fairly the informative series you could have occurring here. Certainly makes it so much simpler to comprehend what is going on. I admire your use of diagrams and charts, they relatively help.

  16. I had an idea that Alzhimer’s disease effects the brain. But, after reading the article above, this goes more into depth of the effects it has. Very serious disease that effects memory and membrane cells. Maybe there might be a cure for this in the future.

  17. Very interesting blog I like the fact that they explained it in great detail in a way thats easy to understands


  19. After all its my responsibility to heartily thank the author for posting this wonderful and effective informative article..

  20. meredith cartwright

    Quite an interesting article, I really enjoy learning more about Alzheimer’s. Most people, myself included, have little actual knowledge of the disease, and this was very well written and informative. Hopefully with further understanding of it, we can soon find a cure.

  21. Interesting article! The details in this article is quite knowledgeable. There’s some learning going on here that I’ve picked up. Definitely would read it again!

  22. There don’t seem to be many new treatments for alzheimer’s. Watching loved ones die of this disease is excruciating, I had to take care of two grandmothers in their final days.

  23. As a college student thats studied the effects of Alzheimer’s upon the brain as well as going into detail on each specific affliction, this article greatly helps the community understand more of the underlying afflictions that Alzheimer’s has other than Dementia and Memory decomposition

  24. I really wonder what it must be like. One day you recognize your child and the next you don’t. I wonder if there is some sort of program or text that you can have on a regular basis for those who are prone. Like memory tests and such every six months, to keep track of progression.

    Interesting that the brain actually shrinks in later stages.

  25. It is good that there are articles that let us know how to understand Alzheimer’s. This is a good article. We need to know about how Alzheimer’s progresses. My brother had it it, but I still don’t know much about it. He only lived a year after my sister-in-law found out, but he had other health issues too. There is very good information here.

  26. This information is very helpful, and is very informing to let people no how critical, and severe alzheimers can become.

  27. I had an idea that Alzhimer’s disease effects the brain.

  28. This is a very informative article. It really helped me gain a better understanding of Alzheimer’s and how devastating this disease can be.

  29. This article is very helpful to me since my mother was diagnosed with this illness. I’m more aware and have a better understanding of illness.

  30. This article gives you informatiom about this type of disease and it explains how bad it can actually be i feel so sorry for the tons of americans having too deal with this as far as im concerned nobody should have to go through life living this way .

  31. This was very interesting, I learned a lot of new information. Keep it up – the more we can understand the closer we can come to (finally!!) a cure.

  32. This is a very informative post. I wish more people were aware of the affects of Alzheimers disease and the knowledge of dealing with its effects. My grandfather dad this disease and many people just marked him off as being crazy which is truly sad.

  33. Thank you for the very informative post. I have witnessed Alzheimer’s before, it is so tragic. Posts like this can be so helpful to those touched by the disease. God Bless.

  34. The article does a good job of giving the overall basics of how Alzheimer’s affects the brain. Good images as well. A short paragraph on potential treatments (gamma secretases, etc.) and how they work would be nice.

  35. I did not know about the effects of alzheimers before reading this article. I learned a lot! Thanks for sharing and I will let my friends know about this!

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