Neuropsychiatric symptoms, like apathy and irritability, are common in most Alzheimers disease patients prior to the diagnosis of memory loss.
The study, led byYao-Ying Ma, MD, and an assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology, was recently featured in the publicationMolecular Psychiatry. Using a brain receptor, a researcher identified a neuron that causes a loss of neurons and synaptic structure when found in an Alzheimers disease model.
The analysis centered on the nucleus accumbens, a critical brain region that can be used by Alzheimers disease researchers. This area, located in the ventral striatum, isn''t much studied much among Alzheimers disease scientists; it is primarily studied to understand motivational and emotional processes. Previous studies have shown that the volume of nucleus accumbens, like the cortical and hippocampal regions in the brain, is reduced in adults with Alzheimers disease.
Ma, who has become relatively new to the field of Alzheimers disease research, has a background in drug addiction investigations and synaptic communication. Symptoms include substance abuse, mood swings, and anxiety in Alzheimers disease patients.
Almost half of Alzheimers patients begin showing mood swings before the beginning of cognitive difficulties, and they have a greater chance to develop depression symptoms, according to Ma.
These neuropsychiatric symptoms appear to be less prevalent than memory loss, but no effective therapy is available, according to Ma. Observation of the importance of understanding why these signs exist and how they can positively impact cognitive deficits.
This synaptic loss in the brain causes motivation deficits. Ma said that targeting these receptors in the brain and blocking them might prevent or delay the formation of Alzheimers disease, along with other neuropsychiatric problems.
If we can postpone pathological progression in one of the affected areas, like the nucleus accumbens, Ma said, it may be late in other regions.