Plaque build-up in your brain may be more harmful than having Alzheimer's gene

October 15, 2012, American Academy of Neurology

A new study shows that having a high amount of beta amyloid or "plaques" in the brain associated with Alzheimer's disease may cause steeper memory decline in mentally healthy older people than does having the APOE ɛ4 allele, also associated with the disease. The study is published in the October 16, 2012, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

"Our results show that plaques may be a more important factor in determining which people are at greater risk for cognitive impairment or other memory diseases such as Alzheimer's disease," said study author Yen Ying Lim, MPsych, with the University of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia. "Unfortunately, testing for the is easier and much less costly than conducting amyloid imaging."

For the study, 141 people with an average age of 76 who were free of any problems in memory and thinking underwent PET and were tested for the . Their memory and thinking was then tracked over the following year and a half, using a set of computer-based cognitive assessments that were based on playing card games and remembering word lists.

The study found that after a year and a half, people who had more brain plaques at the start of the study had up to 20 percent greater decline on the computer based assessments of memory than did those who had fewer . The study also found that while carriers of the APOE ε4 allele also showed greater decline on the memory assessments than those who did not have the allele, carrying the ε4 allele did not change the decline in memory related to the plaques.

"Our finding that brain plaque-related can occur while people still have normal memory and thinking shows that these plaque-related brain changes can be detected and measured while older people are still healthy. This provides an enormous opportunity for understanding the development of early Alzheimer's disease and even a sound basis for the assessment of plaque-targeting therapies," said Lim.

Explore further: Active lifestyle associated with less Alzheimer disease-related brain change among persons with APOE epsilon4 genotype

Related Stories

Active lifestyle associated with less Alzheimer disease-related brain change among persons with APOE epsilon4 genotype

January 16, 2012
A sedentary lifestyle is associated with greater cerebral amyloid deposition, which is characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), among cognitively normal individuals with the ε4 allele of the apolipoprotein E ...

People with early Alzheimer's disease may be more likely to have lower BMI

November 21, 2011
Studies have shown that people who are overweight in middle age are more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease decades later than people at normal weight, yet researchers have also found that people in the earliest stages ...

Malfunctioning protein a cause of Alzheimer's plaques

June 30, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- In a new study published in Science Translational Medicine, scientists from the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis reveal their discovery of a protein made by an Alzheimer’s gene ...

Purpose in life may protect against harmful changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer's disease

May 7, 2012
Greater purpose in life may help stave off the harmful effects of plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study by researchers at Rush University Medical Center. The study, published in ...

Recommended for you

Research reveals atomic-level changes in ALS-linked protein

January 18, 2018
For the first time, researchers have described atom-by-atom changes in a family of proteins linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a group of brain disorders known as frontotemporal dementia and degenerative diseases ...

Fragile X finding shows normal neurons that interact poorly

January 18, 2018
Neurons in mice afflicted with the genetic defect that causes Fragile X syndrome (FXS) appear similar to those in healthy mice, but these neurons fail to interact normally, resulting in the long-known cognitive impairments, ...

How your brain remembers what you had for dinner last night

January 17, 2018
Confirming earlier computational models, researchers at University of California San Diego and UC San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Arizona and Louisiana, report that episodic memories are encoded in the hippocampus ...

Recording a thought's fleeting trip through the brain

January 17, 2018
University of California, Berkeley neuroscientists have tracked the progress of a thought through the brain, showing clearly how the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain coordinates activity to help us act in response ...

Midbrain 'start neurons' control whether we walk or run

January 17, 2018
Locomotion comprises the most fundamental movements we perform. It is a complex sequence from initiating the first step, to stopping when we reach our goal. At the same time, locomotion is executed at different speeds to ...

Miles Davis is not Mozart: The brains of jazz and classical pianists work differently

January 16, 2018
Keith Jarret, world-famous jazz pianist, once answered in an interview when asked if he would ever be interested in doing a concert where he would play both jazz and classical music: "No, that's hilarious. [...] It's like ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.