Indications of Alzheimer's disease may be evident decades before first signs of cognitive impairment

March 28, 2011

Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine have found that patients with Alzheimer's disease have lower glucose utilization in the brain than those with normal cognitive function, and that those decreased levels may be detectable approximately 20 years prior to the first symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. This new finding could lead to the development of novel therapies to prevent the eventual onset of Alzheimer's. The study is published online in the journal Translational Neuroscience.

Using modified to develop Alzheimer's disease, the research team found that when β-amyloid, an abnormal protein linked to Alzheimer's disease, starts to become detectable in the in its soluble toxic form, the mitochondria, or "power plants" of the cell where glucose is converted into energy, became impaired. Within the equivalent of about 20 human years, mice with decreased energy metabolism developed signs of Alzheimer's disease such as cognitive defects and impairment of the synaptic terminal, the area of brain cells important in memory formation.

"This evidence in mice validates that the diagnosis of probable Alzheimer's disease may be the end result of impairment in brain cell energy production," said the study's lead author, Giulio M. Pasinetti, MD, PhD, The Saunder Family Professor in Neurology, and Professor of Psychiatry, Geriatrics, and Adult Development at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "Identifying that mitochondrial impairment is evident years earlier than cognitive defects is a major breakthrough."

"This new evidence could revolutionize the way we design interventions," said Merina T. Varghese, MD, co-author of the study and Postdoctoral Fellow in Neurology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "This study sets the stage for the development of potential novel preventions or therapies to apply in humans, even when they have normal cognitive function, to prevent the eventual onset of Alzheimer's disease."

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kevinrtrs
1 / 5 (2) Mar 29, 2011
Mmmmmhhhh, perhaps I don't quite understand but there doesn't seem to be a clear link between the study on mice and the extrapolation to humans. Who/what says that what happens in the mice is the same as in humans? Like I said - perhaps I lack insight.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Mar 29, 2011
The link is that humans and mice have BRAINS. brains that use very similar, though not identical, chemistry.

Research with mice is faster, cheaper and less liable to have severe ethical issues than testing humans. The human tests come later. Sometimes it doesn't work out the same with humans but it does often enough to make it a better way to do things overall.

For one thing researches can kill and then dissect the brains of mice without waiting for them to die months (decades with humans) later. Do that with humans and I suspect that there might just happen to be some legal problems.

Ethelred
Skultch
not rated yet Apr 01, 2011
One of my most desperate hopes is that we figure this out before it affects my 60 yr old mother. Her mother is completely debilitated by this disease right now.

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