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Alzheimer's Disease and the Brain
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11. More about plaques

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.

©2009 Alzheimer's Association. www.alz.org. All rights reserved. Illustrations by Stacy Janis.
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