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

October 15, 2012

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

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 ...

Recommended for you

Immunotherapy target suppresses pain to mask cancer

May 23, 2017

Once hailed as a breakthrough in cancer treatment, immunotherapies are now raising concerns as doctors note new side effects like severe allergic reactions, acute-onset diabetes and heart damage.

Computations of visual motion in the brain

May 22, 2017

Botond Roska and his group at the FMI have elucidated how the retina and the visual cortex work together in visual motion perception. They found that cortical cells, which respond preferentially to backward image motion, ...

Understanding the architecture of our 'second brain'

May 19, 2017

Scientists have made an important step in understanding the organisation of nerve cells embedded within the gut that control its function - a discovery that could give insight into the origin of common gastrointestinal diseases, ...

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.