Researchers identify possible treatment window for memory problems

February 27, 2013

Researchers have identified a possible treatment window of several years for plaques in the brain that are thought to cause memory loss in diseases such as Alzheimer's. The Mayo Clinic study is published in the Feb. 27 online issue of Neurology.

"Our study suggests that plaques in the brain that are linked to a decline in memory and thinking abilities, called beta amyloid, take about 15 years to build up and then plateau," says lead author Clifford Jack, Jr., M.D., a Mayo Clinic radiologist, and the Alexander Family Professor of Alzheimer's Disease Research at Mayo Clinic.

For the study, 260 people ages 70 to 92 had two or more brain scans over an average of 1.3 years to measure in their brains. Of the participants, 22 percent had impaired thinking abilities or memory at the start of the study.

The study found that the rate of buildup accelerates initially, then slows before plateauing at high levels. The rate of was highest in those with mid-range levels at the start of the study. Those with low levels or high levels of the plaques as the study began had lower rates of plaque buildup.

The study also found that the rate of buildup of plaques was more closely tied to the total amount of in the brain than other risk factors, such as the level of cognitive impairment, age and the presence of the , a gene linked to Alzheimer's disease.

"Our results suggest that there is a long treatment window where medications may be able to help slow buildup of the amyloid plaques that are linked to ," Dr. Jack says. "On the other hand, trying to treat the plaque buildup after the amyloid plaque load has plateaued may not do much good."

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

Related Stories

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, ...

Clue to cause of Alzheimer's dementia found in brain samples

October 22, 2012
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found a key difference in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease and those who are cognitively normal but still have brain plaques that characterize ...

Study identifies chemical changes in brains of people at risk for Alzheimer's disease

August 24, 2011
A brain imaging scan identifies biochemical changes in the brains of normal people who might be at risk for Alzheimer's disease, according to research published in the August 24, 2011, online issue of Neurology, the medical ...

Recommended for you

In witnessing the brain's 'aha!' moment, scientists shed light on biology of consciousness

July 27, 2017
Columbia scientists have identified the brain's 'aha!' moment—that flash in time when you suddenly become aware of information, such as knowing the answer to a difficult question. Today's findings in humans, combined with ...

Scientists block evolution's molecular nerve pruning in rodents

July 27, 2017
Researchers investigating why some people suffer from motor disabilities report they may have dialed back evolution's clock a few ticks by blocking molecular pruning of sophisticated brain-to-limb nerve connections in maturing ...

Social influences can override aggression in male mice, study shows

July 27, 2017
Stanford University School of Medicine investigators have identified a cluster of nerve cells in the male mouse's brain that, when activated, triggers territorial rage in a variety of situations. Activating the same cluster ...

Scientists become research subjects in after-hours brain-scanning project

July 27, 2017
A quest to analyze the unique features of individual human brains evolved into the so-called Midnight Scan Club, a group of scientists who had big ideas but almost no funding and little time to research the trillions of neural ...

Researchers reveal unusual chemistry of protein with role in neurodegenerative disorders

July 27, 2017
A common feature of neurodegenerative diseases is the formation of permanent tangles of insoluble proteins in cells. The beta-amyloid plaques found in people with Alzheimer's disease and the inclusion bodies in motor neurons ...

Mother's brain reward response to offspring reduced by substance addiction

July 27, 2017
Maternal addiction and its effects on children is a major public health problem, often leading to high rates of child abuse, neglect and foster care placement. In a study published today in the journal Human Brain Mapping, ...

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.