Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and is the most common form of neurodegenerative dementia. It afflicts 5.8 million people nationwide.
Globally, the disease is inexorably on the rise. An estimated 50 million people are believed to be living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
According to the United Nations, the number of affected people could reach 152 million worldwide by 2050 unless therapeutics are discovered to stop the escalating number of cases.
Binge drinking may be linked to both the onset and severity of Alzheimer’s disease.
But in a new study, researchers found how excessive alcohol consumption leads to the most common form of dementia.
The research was conducted by a team at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research in New York.
The study builds on a deceptively simple premise: Excessive alcohol consumption is toxic to the brain.
Binge drinking likely plays an insidious role in the alteration of a normal brain protein into a biological rogue that is highly prevalent in Alzheimer’s disease.
The protein is identified by a simplistic monosyllabic name—tau.
In its normal conformation, tau is found in neurons modulating the stability of axonal microtubules.
But in its abnormal conformation, tau has long been considered one of the leading hallmarks of Alzheimer’s, and makes up the tangles in the notorious “plaques and tangles” pathology.
The plaques are deposits of the protein beta amyloid. The new research involving binge drinking and Alzheimer’s dementia is riveted, however, on tau.
A potential breakthrough in the study would be a definitive explanation of how tau transforms from a normal protein into a neuron-annihilating cause of Alzheimer’s under the influence of excessive alcohol.
The researchers think they’re on the right path to make that discovery.
Despite the tantalizing clues of their preliminary research, the team is uncertain about the precise sequence of mechanisms involved in how excessive alcohol consumption leads to Alzheimer’s.
However, they’re keenly aware that a protein called eCIRP is a critical mediator of memory impairment induced by exposure to binge-drinking levels of alcohol.
They say there are also early suggestions that beta amyloid, the cause of Alzheimer’s plaques, may also be linked to binge drinking.
One author of the study is Dr. Max Brenner, an assistant professor at the Feinstein Institutes.
The study is published in Molecular Neurobiology.
Copyright © 2020 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.