Pre-Alzheimer's: Metabolic disorder found in cognitively normal patients

June 11, 2013

Alzheimer's disease has been linked in many studies to amyloid plaque buildup in the brain, but new research is finding a common thread between amyloid burden and lower energy levels, or metabolism, of neurons in certain areas of the brain associated with Alzheimer's disease—even for people with no sign of cognitive decline. This is a new development in the understanding of Alzheimer's pathology, say neuroscientists unveiling the research at the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging's 2013 Annual Meeting.

"This study shows that there is an association between hypometabolism and amyloid in the brains of normal people," said Val J. Lowe, MD, a professor of radiology at Mayo Clinic Cancer Center based in Rochester, Minn. "Previous studies indicate that hypometabolism of this same pattern is present in patients who have abnormalities of the gene apolipoprotein E, or APOE. The hypothesis is that people who have these tend to have hypometabolism and are on the trajectory toward developing Alzheimer's disease. Hypometabolism does appear to be an early harbinger of the disease before dementia sets in."

The research is a part of a longitudinal multi-phase study called the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging, which includes 2,500 patients with 4,000 projected for the next phase. For this imaging study, 617 cognitively normal subjects underwent two separate positron emission tomography (PET) procedures, a technique that visualizes in the body. Each subject was imaged with an amyloid-binding radionuclide imaging agent, C-11 Pittsburgh compound B (PiB), produced on-site at the Mayo Clinic. An hour later, all patients were imaged again using the same scanner and a different radionuclide agent, F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), which shows up on scans as hot-and-cold spots according to metabolic brain cell activity.

Results were then analyzed via quantitative analysis and reviewed. Researchers found significant hypometabolism in brain regions classically associated with Alzheimer's disease, including the angular gyrus and posterior cingulate. Even the PiB PET scans that were deemed barely positive for amyloid were partnered with FDG PET scans that showed corresponding hypometabolism.

"In general, these findings were group-wide," said Lowe. "We now need to parse the data down to an individual subject level to see what is driving this relationship. As we follow these subjects long term, this relationship will be important because if people have amyloid in their brain and survive without Alzheimer's disease despite amyloid, we want to know why."

Explore further: Study finds that sleep apnea and Alzheimer's are linked

Related Stories

Study finds that sleep apnea and Alzheimer's are linked

May 19, 2013
A new study looking at sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) and markers for Alzheimer's disease (AD) risk in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and neuroimaging adds to the growing body of research linking the two.

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 ...

New imaging test aids Alzheimer's diagnosis

August 23, 2012
In research studies, scientists regularly use positron emission tomography (PET) scans to detect signs of Alzheimer's disease. Now, Washington University physicians at Barnes-Jewish Hospital are the first in Missouri to offer ...

Is it Alzheimer's disease or another dementia? Marker may give more accurate diagnosis

November 30, 2011
New research finds a marker used to detect plaque in the brain may help doctors make a more accurate diagnosis between two common types of dementia – Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). ...

It's not just amyloid: White matter hyperintensities and Alzheimer's disease

February 19, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—New findings by Columbia researchers suggest that along with amyloid deposits, white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) may be a second necessary factor for the development of Alzheimer's disease.

Molecular imaging detects signs of Alzheimer's in healthy patients

June 11, 2012
An arsenal of Alzheimer's research revealed at the Society of Nuclear Medicine's 59th Annual Meeting indicates that beta-amyloid plaque in the brain not only is involved in the pathology of Alzheimer's disease but may also ...

Recommended for you

Noninvasive eye scan could detect key signs of Alzheimer's years before patients show symptoms

August 17, 2017
Cedars-Sinai neuroscience investigators have found that Alzheimer's disease affects the retina—the back of the eye—similarly to the way it affects the brain. The study also revealed that an investigational, noninvasive ...

Could olfactory loss point to Alzheimer's disease?

August 16, 2017
By the time you start losing your memory, it's almost too late. That's because the damage to your brain associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) may already have been going on for as long as twenty years. Which is why there ...

New Machine Learning program shows promise for early Alzheimer's diagnosis

August 15, 2017
A new machine learning program developed by researchers at Case Western Reserve University appears to outperform other methods for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease before symptoms begin to interfere with every day living, initial ...

Brain scan study adds to evidence that lower brain serotonin levels are linked to dementia

August 14, 2017
In a study looking at brain scans of people with mild loss of thought and memory ability, Johns Hopkins researchers report evidence of lower levels of the serotonin transporter—a natural brain chemical that regulates mood, ...

Alzheimer's risk linked to energy shortage in brain's immune cells

August 14, 2017
People with specific mutations in the gene TREM2 are three times more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than those who carry more common variants of the gene. But until now, scientists had no explanation for the link.

Scientists reveal role for lysosome transport in Alzheimer's disease progression

August 7, 2017
Researchers from Yale University School of Medicine have discovered that defects in the transport of lysosomes within neurons promote the buildup of protein aggregates in the brains of mice with Alzheimer's disease. The study, ...

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.