What Is Dementia?
Dementia is a disorder characterized by symptoms that affect thinking, memory, and the ability to interact with the people around them. Dementia can be the clinical symptom of various disorders; it mainly involves the impairment of two or more brain functions. Dementia remains a silent symptom for years before it is clinically presented.
What Are the Types of Dementia?
What Is LATE Disease?
The LATE disease is a disorder characterized by dementia and presents symptoms similar to Alzheimer's. The term LATE stands for limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy. TDP-43 is a protein that plays an important role in the progression of the disease as this protein accumulates in the brain cells and destroys them by injuring these cells.
Some of the common parts of the brain that are affected by LATE include:
The Amygdala: An area that regulates emotions.
The Hippocampus: Center for learning and memory.
The Temporal Lobe: Involved in understanding and processing words.
The Frontal Lobes: A region where information is stored and manipulated.
Knowing more about the LATE disease is important as it affects the large population in the older generation (people above the age of 85). It was diagnosed when many people with dementia died, and not found similar features to Alzheimer's like telltale signs in brain autopsy findings when examined. The disease is also called TDP-43 proteinopathy.
What Are the Stages of the LATE Disease?
The LATE disease is categorized into three stages according to the progress of the disease, which is as follows:
Stage 1: Involves only the amygdala.
Stage 2: Involves the amygdala and hippocampus.
Stage 3: Involves areas of stages one and two along with the middle frontal gyrus.
What Are the Causes of LATE Disease?
The exact cause of the disorder remains unknown, and studies have suggested that LATE disorder and Alzheimer's are not the same. The root cause of the disease is considered the dysfunction or misfold of the TDP-43 protein; other uncommon forms of dementia, like frontotemporal lobar degeneration, are also considered to play some role in developing the LATE disease.
What Are the Symptoms of the LATE Disease?
The clinical presentation of the late disease is similar to that of Alzheimer's; the disorder is characterized by amnestic cognitive syndrome, which includes impaired cognitive functions like:
Difficulty in understanding and remembering words.
Impaired working memory as these people have shrunk the hippocampus responsible for learning and memorizing.
Seek help in almost all daily activities.
Speech is limited to a few or one word.
Loss of appetite.
Disturbed bowel movements.
How Is the LATE Disease Diagnosed?
The LATE disease is difficult to diagnose; the worst part is that the disease cannot be diagnosed when the person is still alive. But the patient's clinical presentation is memory loss and difficulty finding words and carrying out normal daily activities. The diagnosis is confirmed by carrying out an autopsy. An autopsy is performed as a part of the neuropathological evaluation. An autopsy is the only way a person can determine the exact cause of dementia.
How Is the LATE Disease Treated?
LATE is often not diagnosed during its early stages; therefore, treating LATE is difficult. In most cases, the disease is confused with Alzheimer's disease. Researchers have even proved that the drugs used in treating Alzheimer's, like Donepezil, Rivastigmine, Memantine, and Galantamine, can be used effectively in threatening patients with the LATE disorder.
LATE is a type of dementia that is caused due to TDP-43 encephalopathy; the disease is diagnosed and occurs in the late stages of life, hence the name. The individual presents with symptoms caused due to mental impairment, including memory loss and social impairment, and can progress to a level where a person finds difficulty in carrying out daily activities on their own; forgetfulness is also observed in such individuals.
Treating such conditions becomes difficult as they are not diagnosed without an autopsy; therefore, the disease cannot be confirmed when the person is alive. Cases with the LATE disorder are commonly confused with Alzheimer's. Thus, these patients are treated with the medications used to treat Alzheimer's. The disease, its etiology, and its treatment are not well understood as it is still being researched and studied. But the literature so far suggests that the cause of dementia is not only Alzheimer's disease but can even be other possible disorders like the LATE disease.