Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Found in Young Adults

While age is the number one risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, Alzheimer’s is not a natural part of aging and the disease affects more than just the senior age group. In fact, a recent study has found evidence of amyloid buildup in the brains of people as young as 20 years old. Learn more about this study and what it means for the future of Alzheimer’s research. Early Signs of Alzheimer's Found in Young Adults

Beta Amyloid Plaques Found in the Brains of Young Adults

A new study lead by Changiz Geula, a research professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, found evidence of Alzheimer’s disease in the brains of deceased adults as young as 20 years old. The research team analyzed the brains of 13 people between the ages of 20-66 with no health issues, 14 people without dementia between the ages of 70-99, and 21 brains of people with Alzheimer’s between the ages of 60-95. They observed that toxic amyloid buildup was evident irrelevant of age and health.

Amyloid buildup is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s, which is commonly found in the brains of seniors who have the disease. “Amyloid is bad,” said Geula. “We don’t know the exact mechanism by which it causes damage, or if amyloid buildup is the main trigger for Alzheimer’s, so we can’t say that it actually causes the disease. But for a long time we have known that it causes toxic damage, and it cannot be good for you when it accumulates.”

He went on to say that to find the accumulation of amyloid inside nerve cells of individuals as young as 20 was very surprising.

Earlier Prevention and Intervention

Researchers plan to look at a larger number of seniors to determine if the ones with higher amyloid build up have a higher risk for Alzheimer’s or dementia. Because of the smaller sample size of this study, it was hard to determine how much variability there is among the general population. Some seniors in the study were found to have the same amount of amyloid buildup that was also seen in the brains of younger adults.

Dr. Yvette Sheline, professor of psychiatry, radiology and neurology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, noted that while it was interesting to see amyloid accumulation at an early age, the findings were based on a small handful of brain samples and that it was impossible to know if the younger adults would ultimately develop Alzheimer’s, or if beta-amyloid accumulation is a normal part of human physiology.

Taking into consideration the small sample size, other researchers believe the new findings may be instrumental in providing insight into the beginning of Alzheimer’s. Geula is hopeful that the findings of his team will lead to early intervention and a new way to treat the disease. He said:

“The implication appears to be that if we want to prevent these clumps from forming when a person becomes old, we may need to intervene much earlier than we have thought, to try and get rid of amyloid very early in life.”

What are your thoughts on this study? Do you think that the accumulation of amyloid that potentially leads to Alzheimer’s can begin in someone as young as 20? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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Please leave your thoughts and comments

  • Its scary to think that they are finding the plaques in people so young. It also makes me wonder if it is being caused by something environmentally as in something we eat or something in water. Not so much that the genetics isn’t playing a big role, but more like certain factors may encourage the disease. But thank god for some of the research being done currently. Did you see that they were able to reverse some memory loss with ultrasound. Its the first treatment able to reverse some of the damage. Come check out our blog and leave a comment. Would love to have any advice or suggestions/ thoughts any one may have. http://blog.customcaregivers.com/

  • NotWhatWePlanned

    “Amyloid buildup is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s, which is commonly found in the brains of seniors who have the disease. “Amyloid is bad,” said Geula. “We don’t know the exact mechanism by which it causes damage, or if amyloid buildup is the main trigger for Alzheimer’s, so we can’t say that it actually causes the disease.” This article indicates by the title and the information contained that Alzheimer’s is found in young adults as early as 20. This is incorrect as no other tests apparently were performed. There are individuals who have amyloid plaque buildup, but do not exhibit symptoms of dementia.

    • Victoria Adamo


  • KelownaGirl

    Anyone dealing with Frontal Lobe Atrophy, Dementia? Why can’t 4 Neurologists come to the same diagnosis? My GP informed me with the report from the MRI Diagnostic Specialist.

    I’ve been poked, prodded and Neurologists have gone from: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Mental Illness and brain damage from Lithium. It’s in my head. just Mental Illness I can’t accept. Faking. Migraine Headaches and on and on for 2.5 years. I’m just going back to my GP and forget Neurologists. I just wanted to find out more about it. I don’t know what to expect, but I do know, I’m changing and things are happening. I fell on my face, but again. I scars on my face and knees. I can’t get my hands out to protect anymore. Confused, no balance and I get lost driving. I’ve been noticing this getting stronger over several years. My family wants to put me in an institution and are looking at shock therapy.

    • cin

      I think this is what my Mom has!!! Her Dr.s just say dementia!!! What you are describing is what I’ve read! Mom is 74and always had issues w/nserves but for the past 17years about every 5 years there r drastic changes!!! There is not much u can do! Tried med changes ect…yes institutions only for nothing…$$$$moms at home now and I will keep her there as long a possible!!! Maybe its time for you to give up driving!!! Just saying I know that one has to hurt… But at least you can make the call instead of someone else!!! Good luck to you and your family!!! PS my siblings are in denial and so is mom’s family even though there is a strong family history!!!

  • keep learning

    Please take a look at this article which references the study noted above http://www.nutrisearch.ca/comparativeguide/reports/mercury_toxicity.pdf.

    Nerve cells exposed to mercury increased their production of amyloid
    protein. This sticky protein makes up the tangled plaques found in the autopsied brains of
    Alzheimer’s patients.96 Noted toxicologist, Boyd Haley, comments: “Mercury is the toxicant
    behind Alzheimer’s disease. It may not be the only one, but mercury’s role in the
    development of Alzheimer’s disease is clear.” 97

    There are myriad ways for mercury to harm us, consequently is no predictable pattern to the
    symptoms or to the level of a person’s sensitivity to the poison. There is, however, one thing
    of which we can be certain: mercury, in any form, is poisonous and if you are exposed to it
    for long enough you are going to be hurt.

    Please note, mother’s who have amalgams also pass along methyl mercury to their child via the umbilical cord so even if you do not have amalgams you may have received this toxin from your mother.

    • Victoria Adamo


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