In DepthNEUROLOGY

Link to Alzheimer's seen in nodding syndrome

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Science  21 Dec 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6421, pp. 1341
DOI: 10.1126/science.362.6421.1341

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Summary

A disease mystery with no shortage of leads now has an intriguing new one. Since the 1960s, thousands of children in poor, war-torn regions of East Africa have developed epilepsy-like seizures in which their heads bob to their chest; over time, the seizures worsen, cognitive problems develop, and the victims ultimately die. Researchers have proposed causes for nodding syndrome that include malnutrition, parasites, and viruses, but have not proved a clear link to any of them. Now, the first published examination of the brains of children who died after developing the condition suggests it has a key similarity to certain brain diseases of old age, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's: It leaves victims' brains riddled with fibrous tangles containing a protein called tau.