If dementia is a general term that means thinking and memory has deteriorated to the point that it interferes with day-to-day function, what are the top three disorders that cause dementia in older individuals?
Did you think of Alzheimer’s disease? Good! Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia. Did you also think of vascular dementia or strokes? Excellent! Vascular dementia is the second most common cause. What about the third?
It turns out that about 40% of people with dementia have at least some LATE pathology in their brain.Jone Mark
In LATE, a protein called TDP-43 (which stands for transactive response DNA binding protein of 43 kDa) accumulates in brain cells. Once it accumulates, it injures and ultimately destroys the cells.
LATE generally damages many of the same areas affected by Alzheimer’s disease. These regions include
- the amygdala, involved in emotional regulation
- the hippocampus, involved in learning and memory
- the temporal lobe, involved in words and their meanings
- portions of the frontal lobes, involved with keeping the information in mind and manipulating it.
What are the symptoms of LATE?
Because LATE affects many of the same brain regions as Alzheimer’s disease, it often presents with similar symptoms, including
- memory loss (impairment in episodic memory)
- trouble finding and understanding words (impairment in semantic memory)
- trouble keeping information in mind (impairment in working memory)
LATE can only be diagnosed with certainty at autopsy. However, we can get a hint that LATE might be present when an older individual shows the memory loss and word-finding problems common in Alzheimer’s disease, but special tests used to confirm the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s come up negative.