Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions. Brain cell connections and the cells themselves degenerate and die, eventually destroying memory and other important mental functions.
Alzheimer's is also called senile dementia. Senile refers to a person showing weaknesses or diseases of old age. However, a shocking case has surfaced from China as a 19-year-old boy might be a 'probable' case of Alzheimer's disease. If the diagnosis is confirmed, he would be the youngest recorded case of the condition.
The teenager has been struggling with memory problems since the age of 17. He had difficulty studying and had to withdraw from high school. He could not even remember basic chores like eating and would forget all his belongings. He does not even have a history of head trauma, infections, or any other disease.
Alzheimer's is associated with the build-up of two proteins called beta-amyloid and tau in the brain. Scientists from the Capital University in Beijing could not observe these proteins in the scans of the teenager. However, examination of the cerebrospinal fluid showed high levels of the protein called 'p-tau181', which is typically observed before tau protein forms in the brain.
The World Health Organization - University of California Los Angeles Auditory Verbal Learning Test (WHO-UCLA AVLT) of the teenager showed memory impairment. There was deterioration in the hippocampus region of his brain which is responsible for the consolidation of information from short-term to long-term memory. There were also signs of weak metabolism in the bilateral temporal lobe region of the brain.
Early-onset Alzheimer's disease is a condition that occurs before the age of 65. It is usually associated with three genes, namely PSEN1, PSEN2, and APP. However, scientists could not find gene mutations in this teenager's case.
The previously recorded youngest patient diagnosed with Alzheimer's was 21 years old. Scientists believe that young people with Alzheimer's disease may become one of the most "challenging scientific questions of the future."
(Input from various media sources)