The beaches of Florida and Massachusetts has been filled by over a dozen dolphins which had their brains full of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, including amyloid plaques. The discovery has been made by some scientists that think these dolphins might have given as a warning: BMAA, an environmental toxin has also been found alongside the Alzheimer’s-like plaques.
This neurotoxin is produced by blue-green algae blooms, as it is not hard to be caught up in the ocean food web. For a long while now, the cause of neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) has been thought to be chronic dietary exposure to various substances.
Even more, weight is being added to this hypothesis because of the presence of both amyloid plaques and BMAA in 13 stranded dolphins.
Beaches of Florida and Massachusetts got filled with dozens of dolphins with Alzheimer’s disease hallmarks
“Dolphins are an excellent sentinel species for toxic exposures in the marine environment,” says Deborah Mash, a neurologist from the University of Miami. “With increasing frequency and duration of cyanobacterial blooms in coastal waters, dolphins might provide early warning of toxic exposures that could impact human health.”
BMAA could be a trigger of Alzheimer’s disease, this being provided by the possibility of these sea creatures to be a suitable animal model. Dolphins were discovered in 2017 to be the only known wild animal that could show signs of this common human disease.
At the same time, Florida coastal waters are inhabited by dolphins that can be exposed to recurring harmful algae blooms (HABs). That could only be coincidental, but experiments have shown that chronic BMAA dietary exposure can trigger neurodegenerative changes in both non-human primates and humans. The authors write that the chronic and acute exposure to such toxins is not only harmful to animals and humans, as well, the result being severe dermatitis, respiratory illnesses, mucosal damage, organ failure, cancer, and death.