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Recent research suggests that the origins of Alzheimer’s disease may date back to prenatal stages, where abnormalities in brain development could set the stage for this memory-impairing condition. These findings have the potential to establish a screening program that identifies individuals at risk from the moment of birth.

Neurodegenerative diseases occur at 40 years

While there is currently no known cure for Alzheimer’s, there is growing emphasis on adopting protective lifestyle changes, such as maintaining physical fitness and consuming a diet abundant in fish, vegetables, and fruits. Usually, neurodegenerative diseases occur when a person hits 40-60 years. However, clinical symptoms manifest years after the initial decline in specific connections between brain cells.

According to a team of French scientists, there is a potential decline in cognitive abilities due to molecular-scale anomalies that may have been present since childhood or even earlier.

Lead study author Bassem Hassan said that they focused on the amyloid precursor protein (APP), which is highly expressed during nervous system development. Fragmentation of APP produces amyloid peptides, known for their toxic aggregation linked to neuronal death in Alzheimer’s disease. The scientists suggest that APP may have a significant role in the early progression of the disease.

APP expressed during development of cortical nbeurons

APP plays a crucial role in multiple biological processes across different species. It contributes to the repair of cerebral lesions, regulates cellular response following oxygen deprivation, and controls brain plasticity.

In particular, APP is significantly expressed during the development and movement of cortical neurons, which are responsible for essential functions like swallowing and speech.The intricate process of cortical neuron formation starts during fetal development at around week five of gestation and is finished by 28 weeks.

According to Khadijeh Shabani, a post-doctoral researcher at Paris Brain Institute, neurogenesis in humans lasts longer than in other species. Neural stem cells maintain the progenitor state for a prolonged period before differentiating into glial cells, oligodendrocytes, or astrocytes which make up the brain and spinal cord. The regulation of this balance between stem cell proliferation and cell differentiation has been unclear until now.