History & Amyloid Plaques: Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease

Read a very short history of Alzheimer’s disease and the nature of Alzheimer’s plaques at The Emergent Universe, an online interactive science museum about emergence.

The Fibril Connection: Plaques

In 1906, Alois Alzheimer presented autopsy results from a patient having what is now called Early-Onset Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer identified abnormal deposits, called amyloid plaques, that are now considered key markers of Alzheimer’s disease. Yet, it wasn’t until 1984 that Wong & Glenner identified the protein, called Beta Amyloid, that makes up the amyloid fibrils in these plaques, opening wide the field of Alzheimer’s research.

Although Beta Amyloid fibrils are always present in Alzheimer’s, it is now thought that small clusters of Beta Amyloid, rather than the amyloid form, are the toxic species.