amyloid ß-derived diffusible ligands

or oligomers. Tiny toxic proteins only discovered a few years ago, they attack specific synapses rather than the neurons themselves. The synapses attacked are those where there is a gene linked to memory that is normally expressed, thus disrupting the normal expression of the gene. ADDLs are a form of amyloid beta, but differ from plaques in that they are very much smaller, are soluble and diffuse between brain cells until they find vulnerable synapses. They are found in much higher quantities in the brains of those with Alzheimer's, and it is theorized that they accumulate at the beginning of Alzheimer's disease and block memory function. The process is predicted to be reversible, because the ADDLs disrupt communication between cells rather than destroying the cells. There is accumulating evidence that it is these, rather than amyloid fibrils, that are the principal pathogenic species in Alzheimer's disease.

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