alz.org / braintour
Alzheimer's Association logo
Get inside the human brain
Print WindowClose Window

Brain Tour

Brain Basics
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Alzheimer's Disease and the Brain
8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Act
17

Links
Credits

11. More about plaques

Microscopic Illustration of beta-amyloid forming plaques in Alzheimer's brain

Plaques form when protein pieces called beta-amyloid (BAY-tuh AM-uh-loyd) clump together. Beta-amyloid comes from a larger protein found in the fatty membrane surrounding nerve cells.

Beta-amyloid is chemically "sticky" and gradually builds up into plaques.

The most damaging form of beta-amyloid may be groups of a few pieces rather than the plaques themselves. The small clumps may block cell-to-cell signaling at synapses. They may also activate immune system cells that trigger inflammation and devour disabled cells.




Get weekly enews

Stay up-to-date on advances in Alzheimer's treatments, care & research. Get tips for living with Alzheimer's.

First name:

Last name:

*E-mail:

*ZIP:

 

We do not share e-mail addresses with third parties. Security and privacy policy.