Alzheimer’s disease is a neuro-degenerative disorder characterized by progressive impairment of memory and cognitive functions. Impairment of short-term memory is usually the first symptom of the disease, while the retrieval of distant memories remains relatively preserved. As the disease progresses, there is an additional loss of cognitive abilities such as the ability to calculate and to handle common objects. The exact cause of disease is not yet known, but a massive disturbance in dopamine regulation in the brain may cause the symptoms related to Alzheimer’s disease.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps to control movements, modulates brain activity and regulates the flow of information to different areas of the brain. Dopamine is associated with normal mood function and is synthesized from a non-essential amino acid, tyrosine. Dopamine is particularly involved in the regulation of cognitive processes associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Patients with Alzheimer’s disease also frequently have non-cognitive symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, apathy and psychosis, that impair daily living. A study published in 2004 in “Molecular Pharmacology” found that non-cognitive aspects of Alzheimer’s disease are usually linked to dopamine and serotonin, as these neurotransmitters most directly influence mood and emotional balance. According to researchers the level of dopamine may be low in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Conventional treatment for Alzheimer's disease consists of a combination of a number of treatments, which can slow down symptoms and help prevent further cognition decline. In people with Alzheimer's disease, dopamine levels may be much lower than normal, so adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables must be included in the diet. The antioxidants of fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, banana, apples, beets and avocados help protect dopamine-using neurons from free radical damage.
Deprenyl is a drug that has been widely used to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. In the brain, Deprenyl slows the breakdown of neurotransmitters and increases the release of dopamine. As a treatment for Alzheimer's disease, Deprenyl may be associated with improvement in behavioral and cognitive performance, particularly in the areas of attention and memory, according to a study published in 1991 in the “Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.”