Cetaceans, a class of marine mammals, include whales, porpoises and dolphins, some of the most intelligent creatures on Earth. Bottle nose DolphinsFor example, they have A little big brain From humans (1600 grams to 1300 grams) it is also very complicated Language skills. Some even have dolphins Developed The use of tools is considered a sign Knowledge of animals.
But sometimes dolphins do some pretty mindless things, at least from a human perspective. In particular, some dolphins strand themselves on the sand, often fatally. The entire dolphins can do this at once.
Occasionally, they do this by chasing food, a behavior that “”Feeding thread“Other times it’s for a reason. pollution or industrialization. In other cases, it may be due to “sick leader syndrome” in which dolphins follow an older, confused and mentally retarded dolphin for the rest of their lives.
A new study by European Journal of Neuroscience Some of this disorienting behavior suggests that dolphins may have developed Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive brain disorder that erodes memory, often described as dementia. By analyzing the brains of 22 dolphins, researchers from the Universities of St Andrews and Edinburgh, the University of Glasgow and the Mordun Research Institute in Scotland provide the most detailed evidence yet of this disease occurring in dolphins. The idea that Alzheimer’s may affect animals other than humans has had a profound impact on neurological research into the disease.
In particular, the study says that dolphins may develop Alzheimer’s, although this is not definitive proof. Previous research He suggested that it might be. Until scientists can test these animals for cognitive deficits, they won’t know for sure. In addition, this coastal behavior may be due to other factors, including: sonar from naval vessels.
“These significant findings are the first to show brain pathology in hanging odontocetes. [another word for toothed whales and dolphins] It is similar to the brains of people with clinical Alzheimer’s disease,” said lead researcher Dr Mark Daglish of the University of Glasgow. press release. “It is tempting at this stage to hypothesize that the presence of these brain lesions in odontotes may suffer from the cognitive deficits associated with Alzheimer’s disease in humans, but more research is needed to better understand what is happening in these animals.”
When Daglish and his colleagues dissected the brains of 22 dolphins that had died and washed up on the coast of Scotland, they found 3 with the same proteins and brain scarring that occurs in human Alzheimer’s patients.
Alzheimer’s is really a terrible disease, the exact cause is not fully understood. That’s the situation. It is known General mental decline, with difficulty thinking, gathering and understanding things, confusion, forgetfulness, confusion, and inability to form new memories. It makes an impact. 6 million AmericansIt’s sometimes fatal, but experts still aren’t sure what causes the disease or how best to treat it.
A prevalent theory relates to protein buildup in the brain. Beta-amyloidsIt plays an important role in the growth and maintenance of nerve cells. When many of these proteins accumulate in the brain, they stick together to form amyloid plaques that damage the connections between neurons. Think of it as hard plaque growing on the teeth, but rather like shooting the mind.
Although this is the main theory of the cause of Alzheimer’s, medical science has not been able to develop one Drugs that act on amyloid plaquesIt suggests another trick may be at play.
However, when Daglish and his colleagues dissected the brains of 22 dolphins that had died and washed up on a Scottish beach, they found three with the same proteins and brain scarring that occurs in human Alzheimer’s patients.
The three dolphin species were common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncates), white bean dolphin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris) and the long-finned pilot whale (Globicephala Melas) – Despite its name, it is a species of dolphin. While each of these specimens was older, evidenced by worn or missing teeth, the younger dolphins from the sample had no signs of Alzheimer’s.
They found a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease called tau tangles in three of the amyloid plaques. Tau proteins play a role An important role Stabilizing neurons, but with age they can begin to shrink; Creating eclipses They are neurotoxic and can embed themselves inside the nerve cell. This makes communication between neurons very difficult, which causes cognitive impairment.
Finding both tau tangles and amyloid plaques in dolphins are strong indications that these marine mammals may develop Alzheimer’s disease. But it is not yet confirmed for sure. Human and dolphin brains are very different and there may be other explanations why these proteins were present in the dead cetaceans.
However, this research has exciting implications for future Alzheimer’s research, as well as marine animal conservation. One of the reasons we don’t fully understand Alzheimer’s is because we don’t have a very good one. Animal models In which experiments, at least nothing close to humans. Although some animals may show similar brain damage, it cannot be translated into the same exact cognitive deficits.
Don’t worry, people aren’t going to start testing this on live dolphins, because that would probably be considered unethical. However, since dolphins are cognitively much closer to humans than rodents, further studies of dolphins and other marine mammals such as baleen whales may help to understand how Alzheimer’s manifests.
The researchers suggest studying the lives of dolphins in captivity at places like SeaWorld, which detail known life stories, “may provide greater insight into pathogens, risk factors, and causes of disease.” [Alzheimer’s disease],” the authors wrote.
Professor Tara Spiers-Jones of the University of Edinburgh said in a statement: “We were surprised to see brain changes in aging dolphins similar to those seen in human aging and Alzheimer’s disease. “Whether these pathological changes contribute to the death of these animals is an interesting and important question for future work.”
About neuroscience and dolphins