Neurochemical Aspects of Neurodegenerative Diseases

  • Akhlaq A. Farooqui


Neurodegenerative diseases are a debilitating group of diseases associated with site-specific premature and slow death of specific neuronal populations and synapses in brain and spinal cord that modulate thinking, skilled movements, decision making, cognition, and memory (Graeber and Moran, 2002; Soto and Estrada, 2008). These diseases include Alzheimer disease (AD), Parkinson disease (PD), Huntington disease (HD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and prion diseases. In AD, neurons die in the nucleus basalis; in PD, neurodegeneration occurs in the substantia nigra; degeneration of striatal medium spiny neurons is involved in the pathogenesis of HD; and ALS is characterized by damage to motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. It is not clear when does a neurodegenerative disease actually start and how long does it take for neuropathological changes to appear. As stated in Chapter 1, the most important risk factors for neurodegenerative diseases are old age, positive family history, unhealthy lifestyle, and exposure to toxic environment (Fig. 8.1) (Farooqui and Farooqui, 2009). Normal aging is accompanied by alterations in structural organization and functioning of brain tissue. Aging also causes an increase in inflammatory signaling in the nervous system as well as dysfunction of the immune system elsewhere in the body. Chronic neuroinflammation is characterized not only by long-standing chronic activation of microglia but also by sustained release of inflammatory mediators.


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Neurodegenerative Disease Alzheimer Disease Parkinson Disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Patient 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Molecular and Cellular BiochemistryThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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