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The role of biological sciences in understanding the genesis and a new therapeutic approach to Alzheimer’s disease

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Author(s): Eugenia Tęgowska | Adrianna Wosińska

Journal: Postępy Higieny i Medycyny Doświadczalnej
ISSN 0032-5449

Volume: 65;
Start page: 73;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Alzheimer’s Disease | Mitochondrial Diseases | Free Radicals | Oxidative Stress | Insulin | Methylene Blue | laser | olfactory test

ABSTRACT
The paper contrasts the historical view on causal factors in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) with the modern concept of the symptoms’ origin. Biological sciences dealing with cell structure and physiology enabled comprehension of the role of mitochondrial defects in the processes of formation of neurofibrillary tangles and β-amyloid, which in turn gives hope for developing a new, more effective therapeutic strategy for AD. It has been established that although mitochondria constantly generate free radicals, from which they are protected by their own defensive systems, in some situations these systems become deregulated, which leads to free radical-based mitochondrial defects. This causes an energetic deficit in neurons and a further increase in the free radical pool. As a result, due to compensation processes, formation of tangles and/or acceleration of β-amyloid production takes place. The nature of these processes is initially a protective one, due to their anti-oxidative action, but as the amount of the formations increases, their beneficial effect wanes. They become a storage place for substances enhancing free radical processes, which makes them toxic themselves. It is such an approach to the primary causal factor for AD which lies at the roots of the new view on AD therapy, suggesting the use of methylene blue-based drugs, laser or intranasally applied insulin. A necessary condition, however, for these methods’ effectiveness is definitely an earlier diagnosis of the disease. Although there are numerous diagnostic methods for AD, their low specificity and high price, often accompanied by a considerable level of patient discomfort, make them unsuitable for early, prodromal screening. In this matter a promising method may be provided using an olfactory test, which is an inexpensive and non-invasive method and thus suitable for screening, although as a test of low specificity, it should be combined with other methods. Introducing new methods of AD treatment does not mean abandoning the traditional ones, based on enhancing cholinergic transmission. They are valuable as long as the therapy starts when abundant brain inclusions disturb the transmissions.
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