Dementia’s tangled web of culprits baff les doctors
Allan Gallup, a retired lawyer and businessman, grew increasingly forgetful in his last few years. Eventually, he could no longer remember how to use a computer or the television. Although he needed a catheter, he kept forgetting and pulling it out.
It was Alzheimer’s disease, the doctors said. So after Gallup died in 2017 at 87, his brain was sent to Washington University in St. Louis to be examined as part of a national study of the disease.
But it wasn’t just Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers found. Although Gallup’s brain had all the hallmarks – plaques made of one abnormal protein and tangled strings of another – the tissue also contained clumps of proteins called Lewy bodies, as well as signs of silent strokes. Each of these, too, is a cause of dementia.
Gallup’s brain was typical for an elderly patient with dementia. Al