Causes

The cause of AD is unknown but knowledge about the hereditary links is growing (see Genetic Considerations, below). Patients with Down syndrome eventually develop DAT if they live long enough. There is a higher-than-normal concentration of aluminum in the brain of a person with DAT, but the effect is unknown. A distinct protein, AZ-50, has been identified at autopsy in the brains of DAT patients. This protein has been isolated from neurons that were not yet damaged, suggesting that its presence early in the degenerative process might cause the neuronal damage. The life expectancy of a DAT patient is reduced 30% to 60%.

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