Alzheimer’s Disease 

Like all types of dementia, Alzheimer’s is caused by brain cell death. It is a neurodegenerative disease, which means there is progressive brain cell death that happens over a course of time.

The total brain size shrinks with Alzheimer’s – the tissue has progressively fewer nerve cells and connections.

Nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. In Alzheimer’s, there are microscopic ‘plaques’ and ‘tangles’ between and within brain cells.  While they cannot be seen or tested in the living brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease, postmortem/autopsy will always show tiny inclusions in the nerve tissue, called plaques and tangles:
  • Plaques are found between the dying cells in the brain – from the build-up of a protein called beta-amyloid (you may hear the term “amyloid plaques”).
  • The tangles are within the brain neurons – from a disintegration of another protein, called tau.