Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Before dementia's first signs appear, weight-loss rate doubles in elderly

13.09.2006
A long-term study of the elderly has revealed that their average rate of weight loss doubles in the year before symptoms of Alzheimer's-type dementia first become detectable. The finding may be useful to researchers seeking ways to detect and treat Alzheimer's before it causes irreversible brain damage.

The study is the first to confirm in precise detail a link between weight loss and dementia tentatively identified a decade ago. Researchers report in the September 2006 Archives of Neurology that one year before study volunteers were diagnosed with very mild dementia, their rate of weight loss doubled from 0.6 pounds per year to 1.2 pounds per year. The analysis used data from the Memory and Aging Project at the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC) of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Alzheimer's researchers are working hard to find biomarkers, indicators that can be used to detect the presence of Alzheimer's before clinical symptoms become obvious. Studies at the ADRC and elsewhere have strongly suggested that if Alzheimer's treatments will ever prevent lasting cognitive damage, they may have to be given to patients before memory loss and other disruptions caused by the disorder are evident.

"A person's weight can vary substantially in a given year, so weight loss alone can't serve as a definite indicator for physicians," says David K. Johnson, Ph.D., research instructor in neurology. "But it's interesting from a biochemical perspective--we don't know why these two phenomena are linked. And weight loss may one day be incorporated into a battery of biomarkers that physicians keep their eyes on for early warning of Alzheimer's-type dementia."

The Memory and Aging Project, which began in 1979, is a long-term study of the links between cognitive health and aging. The project is made possible through the cooperation of hundreds of volunteers age 65 and older who undergo a detailed annual evaluation of their cognitive, neurological and physical health.

In 1991, investigators added patient weight to this annual assessment. According to Johnson, the scientific information available on weight loss in the elderly is sparse. Studies have suggested that weight generally begins a slow but steady decline of about half a pound per year in the late 50s and early 60s. Gerontologists have speculated that the decline may be attributable to physical shrinkage of the body seen in old age, loss of interest in eating or the wasting effects of cancers and other health factors.

The study analyzed data on 449 participants, most in their 70s and 80s but some as young as 65. All were cognitively normal at the beginning of the study but 125 were eventually diagnosed with mild dementia.

"Interestingly, the group of volunteers who did become demented started the study weighing about eight pounds less on average than the patients who did not develop dementia," Johnson notes. "The two groups lost weight at the same rate for four to five years, and then one year before the detection of even the mildest cognitive symptoms, weight loss increased in the group that would eventually be diagnosed with mild dementia."

It's unclear why the group that developed dementia began the study at a lower average weight. Johnson speculates that a process somehow related to Alzheimer's might have become active earlier in the participants' lives and started to drive their weight down. Alternatively, persons with lower average weight may be more vulnerable to Alzheimer's.

"No matter what we did to control for other health variables, such as diabetes, stroke and hypertension, none of them could account for this effect," Johnson says. "Sometime between the last evaluation when they were healthy and this first evaluation when they had mild dementia, a metabolic process kicked in, or kicked into higher gear, and made their Alzheimer's detectable. And increased weight loss went hand-in-hand with that change."

Michael C. Purdy | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wustl.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Speed data for the brain’s navigation system

06.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

What happens in the cell nucleus after fertilization

06.12.2016 | Life Sciences

IHP presents the fastest silicon-based transistor in the world

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>