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 Real-time feedback helps save energy and water
08.02.2017 | Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Switched-on DNA

20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>