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Cholinergic Theory & Alzheimer's Disease - DementiaGuide.com
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Alzheimer's Disease

Cholinergic Theory

The cholinergic theory is one of the oldest supported theories on the cause of Alzheimer's disease . This theory states that Alzheimer's disease begins as a problem with the acetyl choline levels in the brain. It has been found that there is a 40%-70% loss of cholinergic neurons in the brain of an Alzheimer patient. As well, the total amount of acetyl choline in the body has decreased. It is thought that this occurs because there is a shortage of two necessary enzymes. One enzyme is involved in the process of making the acetyl choline and the other is involved in breaking it down after its message has been sent. Having too little of these enzymes is also related to physical problems with the neuron. This will cause the neuron to have difficulty functioning normally.

Pathways of neurons send messages all over the brain about what is going on in the outside world and in the rest of the body. These pathways become damaged when cholinergic neurons are lost or cannot function. As a result, certain areas of the brain will not receive messages and begin to shut down. The areas that are affected the most are the parts that control our ability to understand our world and remember what we experience.

See Also:
About Dementia > Alzheimer's Disease > Natural Progression and Staging
About Dementia > Treatments for Dementia > Cholinesterase Inhibitors
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Last updated January 13, 2019
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