Dealing with Alzheimer’s disease is particularly difficult, especially since patients are often unaware of their condition. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases and those suffering from this neurodegenerative disease have a life expectancy of up to nine years after the moment of their diagnosis. Researchers from the University of Indiana have been investigating one of the genetic variants linked to this disease, and believe that it may support plaque accumulations in the brain even before symptoms appear.
According to a Business Standard report, the team of scientists from Indiana University included patients in their study that had reported “significant memory concerns’ despite testing within normal ranges when given the usual cognition and memory tests.
The Indiana University research team led by Dr. Shannon L Risacher and Andrew J. Saykin examined the data from over 600 study participants and looked for the gene variant in question, APOE e4.
They concluded that in the group where study participants had voiced memory concerns, Alzheimer’s disease-like pathologies were present. The team identified a multitude of biomarkers conducive to their conclusion, such as amyloid plaque deposits as well as protein fragment clumps commonly found in Alzheimer’s patients’ brains.
This protein build-up stemmed from the cerebrospinal fluid where protein levels were significantly lower than normal. The team concluded that, in the plaque creation process, the proteins were being recruited here and transported upwards.
Another hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, the twisted strands of tau protein, were also examined by researchers. In the case of the “significant memory concerns” group, scientists also found increased levels of this particular protein.
Notably, though, none of the patients presented evidence of any later stages of Alzheimer’s disease, such as low glucose metabolism levels or brain structure atrophy, suggesting that further research may aid in the development of screening or diagnostic techniques to provide an even earlier diagnosis.
According to Dr. Risacher, the present study may serve as a foundation for additional investigation and possibly evaluate a patient’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease much earlier than before.
Photo credits: 1