We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are Amyloid Plaques?

By A. Smith
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Amyloid plaques consist of deposits of aluminum silicate and amyloid peptides in nervous tissue. The sticky plaque builds up around nerve cells in the brain and disrupts normal brain activity. Amyloid plaques are associated with several diseases, including Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, but are most commonly associated with Alzheimer's disease. Along with neurofibrillary tangles, amyloid plaques are considered to be a major contributor to the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

This type of plague is one of the two brain abnormalities most commonly associated with Alzheimer's disease. The presence of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles typically is required to confirm an Alzheimer's diagnosis. In fact, the presence of amyloid plaques often precede the behavioral symptoms Alzheimer's patients experience.

Amyloid plaques are located on the outside of neurons, while neurofibrillary tangles are located on the inside of them. Both actually can be found in the brains of people who don't have Alzheimer's, however. It's not their presence that is the issue, rather it is the sheer number of them that creates problems.

Amyloid is a protein. It's normally found throughout the body. In people with Alzheimer's disease, the amyloid protein improperly divides. It creates a form that is referred to as beta amyloid. This beta amyloid is toxic to the neurons that are in the brain.

Beta amyloids have also been known to form tiny holes in neuron membranes. This causes an influx of calcium to enter. Too much calcium kills neurons. Due to these degenerating neurons, plaque begins to form. The body cannot properly break down the plaque, so it begins to build up in the brain.

The gene ApoE4, often referred to as the "Alzheimer's gene," is a genetic abnormality that has been solidly linked to the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Scientists now think that it may be involved in the formation of amyloid plaques. It's thought that the ApoE4 gene produces protein that latches onto the beta amyloid. This then makes it even harder for the body to dissolve it, allowing more plaque to accumulate around the brain.

Molecules called free radicals play a role in the damage that leads to Alzheimer's as well. Some studies have suggested that the damage caused by oxidation and inflammation not only comes from the build-up of amyloid plaques, but may actually be preceded by damage caused by free radicals. Though scientists know that the amyloid beta proteins that make up the plaque are capable of producing free radicals and causing other healthy cells to do so, some studies are now suggesting that free radicals may be causing damage even before the plaque starts building up.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon330854 — On Apr 19, 2013

What should I do if I know I have the alzheimer's gene? My mother and grandmother and maybe even my father had it for sure.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.