Oxford University Reveals Dolphins Can Develop Alzheimer’s Disease
A new study conducted by the Oxford University, published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, reveals that Dolphins are susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease.
In humans, Alzheimer’s is typically indicated by clusters of proteins called tau and beta-amyloid plaques. Tau proteins are twisted proteins while amyloid plaques are sticky and folded. However, recently these pathologies were evident in the brains of several dolphins that died out at sea and washed up on the Spanish coast.
“It is very rare to find signs of full-blown Alzheimer’s Disease in non-human brains,” explains Professor Lovestone, a researcher at Oxford University Department of Psychiatry who was part of the study.
The study claims dolphins are the first wild animals with “unambiguous signs” of Alzheimer’s disease. However, a study released in August of this year that involved chimpanzees revealed that the primates exhibited brain characteristics similar to those of Alzheimer’s. Researchers are currently unable to study living dolphins or chimpanzees to observe their behavior if one is suspected of having Alzheimer’s disease, due to laws preventing tests on captive creatures.
It’s theorized that Alzheimer’s hasn’t been exhibited in other animals due to them dying just after their fertility period ends. Dolphins, on the other hand, have lifespans that sometimes exceed 40 years.
The study was completed with a team of scientists from England, Scotland, and the University of Florida, they also found that insulin signaling changes could be involved in the onset of Alzheimer’s.
“That (insulin signaling) has the effect of prolonging lifespan beyond the fertile years, but it also leaves us open to diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease,” said Lovestone.
Researchers wish to analyze and study the dolphin’s brains more to hopefully find ways to cure and prevent Alzheimer’s and to learn why Alzheimer’s develops.