Detecting Alzheimer's disease before it's too late

April 23, 2018, Society for Neuroscience
The rate at which the protein beta-amyloid accumulates into the sticky plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) is already slowing by the time a patient would be considered to have preclinical AD, according to a longitudinal study of healthy adults published in JNeurosci. The research suggests that anti-amyloid therapies would be most effective before individuals reach the threshold for preclinical AD, long before the first signs of memory issues. Credit: Leal et al., JNeurosci (2018)

The rate at which the protein beta-amyloid accumulates into the sticky plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) is already slowing by the time a patient would be considered to have preclinical AD, according to a longitudinal study of healthy adults published in JNeurosci. The research suggests that anti-amyloid therapies would be most effective before individuals reach the threshold for preclinical AD, long before the first signs of memory issues.

Determining how early to intervene is a central challenge in slowing the progression of AD. Clinical trials of drugs for lowering amyloid levels typically involve individuals who do not yet have symptoms but are considered "amyloid positive" and at risk for developing AD. These trials have been largely unsuccessful, perhaps because they begin too late.

To untangle the relationship between beta-amyloid, the AD-associated protein tau, and impairment over time, Stephanie Leal, William Jagust and colleagues studied healthy men and women between the ages of 61 and 88 over a five-year period. Brain scans revealed that even trace amounts of beta-amyloid predicted future levels of tau, and both preceded memory decline. The researchers found that greater baseline levels of beta-amyloid were associated with a faster rate of accumulation, but only to a point, after which higher beta-amyloid levels were associated with slower accumulation.

Explore further: Research offers potential insight into Alzheimer's disease

More information: JNeurosci (2018). DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0485-18.2018

Related Stories

Research offers potential insight into Alzheimer's disease

April 16, 2018
Slightly elevated beta-amyloid levels in the brain are associated with increased activity in certain brain regions, according to a new study from the Center for Vital Longevity (CVL) at The University of Texas at Dallas.

Alzheimer's proteins in ICU survivors

March 29, 2018
While modern medicine has increased the number of people who survive a stay in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), survivors have a high risk of developing problems with thinking and memory, a phenomenon called cognitive impairment.

Improving brain function in Alzheimer's disease mouse model

April 11, 2018
Using two complementary approaches to reduce the deposits of amyloid-beta in the brain rather than either approach alone improved spatial navigation and memory in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. These findings suggest ...

Sleepless nights show ties to Alzheimer's risk

April 10, 2018
Even one night of lost sleep may cause the brain to fill with protein chunks that have long been linked to the development of Alzheimer's disease, a new study warns.

Anxiety: An early indicator of Alzheimer's disease?

January 12, 2018
A new study suggests an association between elevated amyloid beta levels and the worsening of anxiety symptoms. The findings support the hypothesis that neuropsychiatric symptoms could represent the early manifestation of ...

Blood test identifies key Alzheimer's marker

July 19, 2017
A new study led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggests that measures of amyloid beta in the blood have the potential to help identify people with altered levels of amyloid in their ...

Recommended for you

What really causes Alzheimer's and how might we fix it?

May 23, 2018
There have been a lot of theories about what causes Alzheimer's disease. Many of them have given rise to experimental treatments of one form or another. None of them have worked much better than taking anything you might ...

Study predicts most people with earliest Alzheimer's signs won't develop dementia associated with the disease

May 22, 2018
During the past decade, researchers have identified new ways to detect the earliest biological signs of Alzheimer's disease. These early signs, which are detected by biomarkers, may be present before a person starts to exhibit ...

Moderate to high intensity exercise does not slow cognitive decline in people with dementia

May 16, 2018
Moderate to high intensity exercise does not slow cognitive (mental) impairment in older people with dementia, finds a trial published by The BMJ today.

Mutation discovered to protect against Alzheimer's disease in mice

May 16, 2018
Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Brain Science have discovered a mutation that can protect against Alzheimer's disease in mice. Published in the scientific journal Nature Communications, the study found that a specific ...

Most deprived are nearly twice as likely to develop dementia

May 16, 2018
Older adults in England with fewer financial resources are more likely to develop dementia, according to new UCL research.

Scientists discover a variation of the genome predisposing to Alzheimer's disease

May 15, 2018
An article published in Nature Medicine shows that the inheritance of small changes in DNA alters the expression of the PM20D1 gene and is associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

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.