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Parkinson's and Alzheimer's today - Our current knowledge about Neurodegeneration and its therapy

What happens in the brain when we are aging ? How does neuronal cell death occur when we become forgetful ? What new therapies are available against the death of brain cells ? These and many other questions are addressed by neuroanatomist Dr Lars Klimaschewski, MD, in a book published by Springer in December 2022. Up-to-date research and therapeutic strategies in the field of aging and neurodegeneration are presented with a focus on Alzheimer's dementia and Parkinson's disease. Written in a concise, easy-to-understand style and illustrated by instructive figures.

Chapter 1

Our brain belongs to the central nervous system, which also includes the spinal cord. It is divided into three parts: Cerebrum, Brainstem and Cerebellum. Of the approximately 90 billion nerve cells in the human brain, about 16 billion are located in the cerebral cortex. In the first chapter, comparative aspects are discussed in addition to neuroanatomical basics. This makes it understandable why we, unlike most animal species, need a large number of nerve cells.


Introduction to brain development: why do we need so many neurons?

Neurons and glia in the central nervous system

What happens during brain development?

Evolutionary old brain parts are simpler than the neocortex

What distinguishes the left brain from the right brain?

Brain development in childhood and adolescence

Absolute and relative brain weight

Neural stem cells remain capable of division for a long time

The frontal lobe is particularly important for higher brain performance

The prefrontal cortex encodes specifically human characteristics

Comparison of brain performances between mammals

Chapter 2

The second part of the book focuses on the consequences of the loss of nerve cells. Already at the age of 20, nerve cells perish daily (after 80 years, we have lost about one third of all neurons). The fact that this happens largely unnoticed is due to a distinctive back-up of neurons. The most important information is stored several times in our neuronal networks, so that cognitive functions that are important for survival are normally well preserved into old age. Following the basics of aging, the cellular mechanisms underlying Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases are discussed.


Aging and neurodegenerative diseases - why are neurons lost?

The normal aging process

Molecular mechanisms of cellular aging

Neuronal cell death

Blood supply of the aging brain

General pathomechanisms of Parkinson's disease

Specific causes of Parkinson's disease

Alpha-synuclein: a key protein in Parkinson's disease

The prion theory in Parkinson's disease

General pathomechanisms of dementia and Alzheimer's disease

Disturbed protein homeostasis in Alzheimer's disease

Tau pathology

Pathological effects of pTau and Abeta

The prion theory in Alzheimer's disease

Inflammatory components of Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease

Viral infections in neurodegenerative diseases

Chapter 3

The third chapter discusses the various options available for delaying or even stopping brain degeneration. Perhaps in the future it will even be possible to compensate for neuronal degeneration by generating new neurons. Current therapeutic approaches for the treatment of neuronal degeneration will be presented. However, current research and clinical trials on the therapy of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease will be the focus of this part of the book.


Saving or replacing neurons - which strategy is more successful?

Parkinson's disease

Pharmacological therapies

Surgical and physical therapies

Therapy with neurotrophic factors

Therapies with antisense oligonucleotides

Alpha-synuclein aggregation inhibitors and specific immunotherapies

Stem cell therapies

Other causal therapies

Dementia and Alzheimer's disease


Therapy with secretase inhibitors

Therapy with neurotrophic factors


Stem cell therapy

Other causal therapies

Symptomatic therapy

Which measures are most likely to be successful now?

Diagnosis and therapy of neuronal degeneration - quo vadis?


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