Alzheimer’s disease occurs not only in humans – signs of disease are found in some animals. Recent research in this area indicates that the disease can suffer both monkeys and dolphins.
Researchers from the University of Oxford (Simon Lovestone), led by Simon Lovestone, discovered amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, which are the main sign of the disease, in three species of dolphins.
In total, scientists examined 8 individuals – these were dead dolphins, thrown ashore in Spain. The authors do not know anything about these animals and do not know whether the presence of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in some way influenced dolphin behavior, and it is not clear how typical this situation is for these animals.
Like humans, dolphins live long enough after they lose their reproductive abilities. Over the years, they, like people, have a decrease in insulin sensitivity and insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes, and is also considered a risk factor for Alzheimer’s.
This information, together with data on the detection in the brain of dolphins of markers characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease, suggest that it is this condition that can provoke the development of a neurodegenerative disease.
The authors note that they will not study Alzheimer’s disease in the future on dolphins – this research object is not very convenient, since dolphins are very large and live exclusively in water. Scientists plan to continue the experiment on fruit mice, mice and monkeys, which are much better suited for laboratory experiments. However, they are going to address further attention to whether amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are present in the brain of other large mammals that have a high life-span.
In the event that the connection between aging, insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s disease is confirmed, scientists will be able to learn more about the mechanism of dementia development and ways of fighting the disease.