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Glossary.

Acetylcholine--a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in learning and memory.

Amyloid precursor protein (APP)--the larger protein from which beta-amyloid is formed.

Amyloid plaques--largely insoluble deposits found in the spaces between nerve cells in the brain that are made of beta-amyloid, other molecules, and different kinds of nerve and non-nerve cells.

Apolipoprotein E--a protein that carries cholesterol in blood and that appears to play some role in brain function. The gene that produces ApoE comes in several forms, or alleles--[epsilon]2, [epsilon]3, and [epsilon]4. The APOE [epsilon]2 allele is relatively rare and may provide some protection against AD. APOE [epsilon]3 is the most common allele and it appears to play a neutral role in AD. APOE [epsilon]4 occurs in about 40 percent of all AD patients who develop the disease in later life; it increases the risk of developing AD.

Axon--the long, tube-like part of a neuron that transmits outgoing signals to other cells.

Beta-amyloid--a part of the APP protein found in the insoluble deposits outside neurons and that forms the core of plaques.

Brain stem--the part of the brain that connects the brain to the spinal cord and that controls automatic body functions, such as breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.

Cerebellum--the part of the brain that is responsible for maintaining the body's balance and coordination.

Cerebral cortex--the outer layer of nerve cells surrounding the cerebral hemispheres.

Cerebral hemispheres--the largest portion of the brain, composed of billions of nerve cells in two structures connected by the corpus callosum; the cerebral hemispheres control conscious thought, language, decisionmaking, emotions, movement, and sensory functions.

Chromosome--a threadlike structure in the nucleus of a cell that contains DNA, sequences of which make up genes; most human cells contain 23 pairs of chromosomes.

Clinical trial--a research study involving humans that rigorously tests how well an intervention works.

Cognitive functions--all aspects of conscious thought and mental activity, including learning, perceiving, making decisions, and remembering.

Corpus callosum--the thick bundle of nerves that connects the two hemispheres of the cerebral hemispheres.

Dementia--a broad term referring to the symptoms associated with a decline in cognitive function to the extent that it interferes with daily life and activities.

Dendrite--the branchlike extension of neurons that receive messages from other neurons.

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)--a long double stranded molecule within the nucleus of the cell that forms the chromosomes and contains the genes.

Early-onset Alzheimer's disease--a rare form of AD that usually begins to affect people between ages 30 and 60; it is called familial AD (FAD) if it runs in the family.

Entorhinal cortex--an area deep within the brain where damage from AD first begins.

Enzyme--a substance that causes or speeds up a chemical reaction.

Free radical--a highly reactive oxygen molecule that combines easily with other molecules, sometimes causing damage to cells.

Gene--the biologic unit of heredity passed from parent to child; genes are segments of DNA and they contain instructions that tell a cell how to make specific proteins.

Genetic risk factor--a change in a cell's DNA that does not cause a disease but may increase the chance that a person will develop a disease.

Glial cell--a specialized cell that supports, protects, or nourishes nerve cells.

Hippocampus--a structure in the brain that plays a major role in learning and memory and is involved in converting short-term to longterm memory.

Hypothalamus--a structure in the brain under the thalamus that monitors activities such as body temperature and food intake.

Late-onset Alzheimer's disease--the most common form of AD; it occurs in people aged 65 and older.

Limbic system--a brain region that links the brain stem with the higher reasoning elements of the cerebral cortex; it controls emotions, instinctive behavior, and the sense of smell.

Magnetic resonance imaging--a diagnostic and research technique that uses magnetic fields to generate a computer image of internal structures in the body; MRIs are very clear and are particularly good for imaging the brain and soft tissues.

Metabolism--all the chemical processes that take place inside the body. In some metabolic reactions, complex molecules are broken down to release energy; in others, the cells use energy to make complex compounds out of simpler ones (like making proteins from amino acids).

Microtubules--the internal support structure for neurons that guides nutrients and molecules from the body of the cell to the end of the axon and back.

Mutation--a rare change in a cell's DNA that can cause a disease.

Nerve growth factor (NGF)--a substance that maintains the health of nerve cells. NGF also promotes the growth of axons and dendrites, the parts of the nerve cell that are essential to its ability to communicate with other nerve cells.

Neurofibrillary tangles--collections of twisted tau found in the cell bodies of neurons in AD.

Neuron--a nerve cell in the brain. Neurotransmitter--a chemical messenger between neurons; a substance that is released by the axon on one neuron and excites or inhibits activity in a neighboring neuron.

Nucleus--the organ within a cell that contains the chromosomes and controls many of its activities.

Positron emission tomography (PET)--an imaging technique that allows researchers to observe and measure activity in different parts of the brain by monitoring blood flow and concentrations of substances such as oxygen and glucose in brain tissues.

Single photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT)--an imaging technique that allows researchers to monitor blood flow to different parts of the brain.

Synapse--the tiny gap between nerve cells across which neurotransmitters pass.

Tau--a protein that is a principal component of the paired helical filaments in neurofibrillary tangles; tau helps to maintain the structure of microtubules in normal nerve cells.

Thalamus--a small organ in the front of the cerebral hemispheres that sends sensory information to the cerebral cortex and sends other information back to the body.

Transgenic mice--mice that have had a human gene (like APP) inserted into their chromosomes. Mice carrying the mutated human APP gene often develop plaques in their brains as they age.

Ventricle--cavity within the brain that contains cerebrospinal fluid. During AD, brain tissue shrinks and the ventricles enlarge.

For More Information Organizations

Alzheimer's Association. The Alzheimer's Association is a national, nonprofit organization with a network of local chapters that provide education and support for people diagnosed with AD, their families, and caregivers. Chapters offer referrals to local resources and services, and sponsor support groups and educational programs. Online and print publications are also available.

Alzheimer's Association

919 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 1100

Chicago, IL 60611-1676

1-800-272-3900

Website: www.alz.org

Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study. The Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS) is a cooperative agreement between the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the University of California, San Diego, to advance research in the development of drugs to treat AD. The ADCS is a consortium of medical research centers and clinics working to develop clinical trials of medicines to treat behavioral symptoms of AD, improve cognition, slow the rate of decline of AD, delay the onset of AD, or prevent the disease altogether. The ADCS also develops new and more reliable ways to evaluate patients enrolled in clinical trials.

Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study University of California, San Diego

9500 Gilman Drive-0949

La Jolla, CA 92093-0949

858-622-5880

Website: http://antimony.ucsd.edu/

Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center. The ADEAR Center, part of the NIA, provides publications and information on AD, including booklets on caregiving, fact sheets and reports on research findings, a database of clinical trials, recommended reading lists, and the Progress Report on Alzheimer's Disease. Information specialists provide referrals to local AD resources.

Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center

PO Box 8250

Silver Spring, MD 20907

1-800-438-4380

Website: www.alzheimers.org

Children of Aging Parents. Children of Aging Parents is a nonprofit organization that provides information and referrals for nursing homes, retirement communities, elderlaw attorneys, adult day-care centers, medical insurance providers, respite care, assisted living centers, and State and county agencies. Also offered are fact sheets on various topics, a bimonthly newsletter, conferences and workshops, support group referrals, and a speaker's bureau.

Children of Aging Parents

1609 Woodbourne Road, Suite 302A

Levittown, PA 19057-1511

1-800-227-7294

Website: www.caps4caregivers.org

For More Information

Organizations

Alzheimer's Association. The Alzheimer's Association is a national, nonprofit organization with a network of local chapters that provide education and support for people diagnosed with AD, their families, and caregivers. Chapters offer referrals to local resources and services, and sponsor support groups and educational programs. Online and print publications are also available.

Alzheimer's Association

225 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1700

Chicago, IL 60601

1-800-272-3900

Website: www.alz.org

Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study. The Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS) is a cooperative agreement between the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the University of California, San Diego, to advance research in the development of drugs to treat AD. The ADCS is a consortium of medical research centers and clinics working to develop clinical trials of medicines to treat behavioral symptoms of AD, improve cognition, slow the rate of decline of AD, delay the onset of AD, or prevent the disease altogether. The ADCS also develops new and more reliable ways to evaluate patients enrolled in clinical trials.

Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study

University of California, San Diego

9500 Gilman Drive-0949

La Jolla, CA 92093-0949

858-622-5880

Website: http://adcs.ucsd.edu

Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center. The ADEAR Center, part of the NIA, provides publications and information on AD, including booklets on caregiving, fact sheets and reports on research findings, a database of clinical trials, recommended reading lists, and the Progress Report on Alzheimer's Disease. Information specialists provide referrals to local AD resources.

Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center

PO Box 8250

Silver Spring, MD 20907

1-800-438-4380

Website: www.alzheimers.org

Children of Aging Parents. Children of Aging Parents is a nonprofit organization that provides information and referrals for nursing homes, retirement communities, elderlaw attorneys, adult day-care centers, medical insurance providers, respite care, assisted living centers, and State and county agencies. Also offered are fact sheets on various topics, a bimonthly newsletter, conferences and workshops, support group referrals, and a speaker's bureau.

Children of Aging Parents

1609 Woodbourne Road, Suite 302A

Levittown, PA 19057-1511

1-800-227-7294

Website: www.caps4caregivers.org

Eldercare Locator. The Eldercare Locator is a nationwide, directory assistance service helping older people and their caregivers locate local support and resources. It is funded by the U.S. Administration on Aging, whose website at www.aoa.gov also features AD information for families, caregivers, and health professionals.

Eldercare Locator

1-800-677-1116

Website: www.eldercare.gov

Family Caregiving Alliance. The Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) is a nonprofit organization that offers support services for those caring for adults with AD, stroke, traumatic brain injuries, and other cognitive disorders. FCA programs and services include an Information Clearinghouse for FCA's publications.

Family Caregiving Alliance

690 Market Street, Suite 600

San Francisco, CA 94104

415-434-3388

Website: www.caregiver.org

National Institute on Aging (NIA). Part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the NIA is the Federal government's lead agency for research on AD. NIA also offers information about health and aging, including the Age Page series and the NIA Exercise Kit, which contains an 80-page exercise guide and 48-minute closed-captioned video. Caregivers can find many Age Pages on the website.

National Institute on Aging Information Center

PO Box 8057

Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8057

1-800-222-2225

1-800-222-4225 (TTY)

Website: www.nia.nih.gov

National Library of Medicine. Part of NIH, the National Library of Medicine is the world's largest medical library with 6 million items, including books, journals, technical reports, manuscripts, microfilms, photographs and images. A large searchable health information database of biomedical journals, called MEDLINE/ PubMed is accessible via the Internet. A service called MEDLINEplus links the public to general information about AD and caregiving, plus many other sources of consumer health information, including a searchable clinical trials database located at http://clinicaltrials.gov.

National Library of Medicine

8600 Rockville Pike

Bethesda, MD 20894

1-888-346-3656

Website: www.nlm.nih.gov

Partnership for Caring. Partnership For Caring (PFC) is a nonprofit organization that works to improve how people die in our society. PFC operates an information hotline dealing with end-of-life issues and provides State-specific living wills, medical powers of attorney, and other information materials. PFC also provides education and consultation services to doctors, nurses, social workers, attorneys, and clergy concerning end-of-life decisions.

Partnership for Caring

1620 Eye Street NW, Suite 202

Washington, DC 20006

1-800-989-9455

Website: www.partnershipforcaring.org

Well Spouse Foundation. Well Spouse Foundation is a nonprofit organization that gives support to spouses and partners of the chronically ill and/or disabled. Well Spouse maintains support groups, publishes a bimonthly newsletter, and helps organize letter writing programs to help members deal with the effects of isolation.

Well Spouse Foundation

63 West Main Street, Suite H

Freehold, NJ 07728

1-800-838-0879

Website: www.wellspouse.org

Recommended Reading

Check with your local library, bookseller or with major Internet book distributors for the following: Ballard, E.L., Poer, C.M. Lessons Learned: Shared Experiences in Coping. Durham, NC: The Duke Family Support Program. 1999. Available from the Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center, PO Box 8250, Silver Spring, MD 20907-8250. 1-800-438-4380.

This book documents the experiences of people caring for loved ones with AD. Filled with short stories and advice, it is intended for caregivers who wish to take comfort and learn from the experiences of others. Caregivers discuss the caregiving process, such as getting a diagnosis, finding support services, making decisions about treatment and living arrangements, and coping with stress and caregiver burden.

Davies, H.D., Jensen, M.P. Alzheimer's: The Answers You Need. Forest Knolls, CA: Elder Books. 1998.

This book is designed for people in the early stages of AD. It provides information about the nature and causes of AD, the symptoms and how to deal with them, the assessment process, taking part in a drug research program, continuing to work, handling finances, driving, and the effects of AD on a spouse and other family members.

Mace, N.L., Rabins, P.V. The 36 Hour Day: A Family Guide To Caring for Persons With Alzheimer's Disease, Related Dementing Illnesses, and Memory Loss in Later Life. 3rd ed. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. 1999.

This practical and detailed reference book provides a wealth of information to families on caring for persons with AD or related disorders. The book presents background information on dementia, brain disorders, and the causes of dementia, and gives practical suggestions and advice on how families and caretakers can deal with problems.

McKhann, G., Albert, M. Keeping Your Brain Young: The Complete Guide to Physical and Emotional Health and Longevity. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons. 2002.

This book examines scientific research and case histories to summarize the most effective ways to reduce the impact of physical changes to the brain as we age. The authors offer techniques to improve memory and recommend mental and physical exercise programs. Their strategies to stay healthy also include a well-balanced diet, proper sleep, and getting treatment for depression, vision and hearing loss, and other health problems. The book also discusses brain disorders.

Petersen, R., ed. Mayo Clinic on Alzheimer's Disease. Rochester, MN: Mayo Clinic Health Information. 2002.

This book discusses current knowledge of AD and its relationship to other forms of dementia. It also provides an overview of treatment and caregiving, using the experience of physicians, psychiatrists, neurologists, and allied healthcare professionals at the Mayo Clinic. Topics include how the brain works and what can go wrong; how AD affects a person; diagnosis treatments; research; and caregiving.

Restak, R. The Secret Life of the Brain. Washington, DC: Joseph Henry Press. 2001.

This companion to the PBS documentary takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the developing brain, from infancy and childhood, through adulthood, to old age. The author examines brain disorders and mechanisms of brain repair and healing.

Shenk, D. The Forgetting. Alzheimer's: Portrait of an Epidemic. New York, NY: Random House, Inc. 2001.

An eloquent and moving description of Alzheimer's disease, The Forgetting is an exploration of, and meditation on, the nature of memory and perceptions of self. It is a readable, accessible description of the history of AD, research, and the human impact of the disease. The author, calling AD a "death by a thousand subtractions," describes the science of AD in terms that are easy for those who know nothing about AD to understand.

Snowdon, D. Aging With Grace: What the Nun Study Teaches Us About Leading Longer, Healthier, and More Meaningful Lives. New York, NY: Random House, Inc. 2001.

This book describes the participants and findings from the Nun Study, a long-term project examining aging and AD in a unique population of 678 Catholic sisters. The nuns allowed Dr. Snowdon access to their medical and personal records, and agreed to donate their brains upon death. The book discusses the relationship of early linguistic ability to risk of AD, the association of stroke and depression to AD, and the role of heredity and lifestyle in healthy aging.

Tanzi, R.E., Parson, A.B. Decoding Darkness: The Search for the Genetic Causes of Alzheimer's Disease. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing. 2000.

This book presents a history of the medical journey to find the genetic causes of AD. It describes the experiences of Dr. Rudy Tanzi, a pioneer in the search to identify AD genes. The book is easy to read and examines the complex research involved in molecular genetics. The authors speculate that AD may ultimately be effectively treated and even prevented.
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Date:Nov 1, 2007
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