Why women with Alzheimer’s disease experience faster memory decline

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Alzheimer’s disease is the world’s most common neurodegenerative disease, affecting the memory, thinking, and behavior of over 40 million people worldwide.

It accounts for 60 to 70 percent of dementia cases and is known to affect more women than men.

In a study from NTU Singapore and the National University of Singapore, scientists sought to examine why women develop Alzheimer’s-related symptoms earlier and exhibit a faster decline in memory compared to men.

By experimenting on mice brain samples, the research team found that as female mice age, they experienced a faster decay in their information processing ability compared to male mice, resulting in weaker memory formation and increased memory loss.

The researchers showed that the brains of female mice with the Alzheimer’s genetic mutation were less flexible, or “plastic,” in adapting to new information and forming new memories.

This lowered plasticity of the brain’s synapses—the connections between brain cells, or neurons—likely contributes to greater cognitive impairment and increased vulnerability to Alzheimer’s disease in females.

The team’s lab experiments revealed that female mice with mutations associated with Alzheimer’s disease had a faster decline in long-term potentiation (LTP) compared to the mutant male mice.

LTP is the process by which synaptic strength is increased between neurons that form long-term memories, making it one of the major cellular mechanisms guiding how the brain forms memories and learns new things.

The team says the rapid decay in LTP shown in mice experiments correlates to a corrupted and weakened memory, much like what happens in an Alzheimer’s patient.

If you care about Alzheimer’s, please read studies about the cause of Alzheimer’s disease, and this common cancer drug could help reverse Alzheimer’s symptoms.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about how to sleep to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, and results showing antioxidants may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

The study was conducted by Ch’ng Toh Hean et al and published in Aging Cell.

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