Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Pet scans detect brain differences in people at risk for Alzheimer’s

22.11.2004


Using brain imaging, researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) have found clear differences in brain function between healthy people who carry a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and those who lack the factor.



Because researchers believe that Alzheimer’s disease starts changing the brain years before any symptoms appear, the disease may be most amenable to treatment in these pre-clinical stages. If so, detecting the early changes will be crucial for future therapies.

People who carry the genetic risk factor, the å 4 allele of the Apolipoprotein (APOE) gene, have higher risk of developing the disease than non-carriers and usually show symptoms earlier. "It is possible that what we’re seeing in the APOE- å4 carriers are early changes in the brain caused by Alzheimer’s disease," says the study’s senior author, Yaakov Stern, Ph.D., of CUMC’s Taub Institute and Sergievsky Center.


But he and the study’s first author, Nikolaos Scarmeas, M.D., caution that more research is needed before it’s known for certain if the difference is an early sign of Alzheimer’s. "It’s also possible that the brain differences we see are related to the APOE gene but are not necessarily directly related to incipient Alzheimer’s," says Dr. Scarmeas, a neurologist in the Taub Institute, Sergievsky Center and neurology department. "Even so, the differences we’ve found may provide information on how the å4 allele predisposes carriers to Alzheimer’s disease."

The present study appears in the Nov.-Dec. 2004 issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

About the Study

The researchers looked at six people who carried the APOE- å4 risk factor and 26 non-carriers. None of the 32 participants, mostly in their 60s and 70s, had any signs of dementia or memory deficits and the two groups could not be distinguished from one another by standard cognitive tests.

PET scans taken while the subjects were performing a memory task, however, showed clear differences between the two groups. As the participants tried to remember if they’d seen a particular shape before, one pattern of brain activation appeared in the APOE- å4 carriers while a different pattern appeared in the non-carriers.

Dr. Scarmeas says the difference may indicate that APOE- å4 carriers have to compensate for early damage done by Alzheimer’s by switching to an alternate brain network to complete the task. It could also be that their different genetic makeup results in different patterns of brain activity.

In previous studies, Dr Scarmeas has demonstrated APOE-related changes in brain activity in patients that already have Alzheimer’s disease and in healthy, young, college-age people. Drs Scarmeas, Stern and a large group of other researchers at the Taub Institute are using advanced brain imaging techniques to examine changes in cognition and brain function as a result of normal aging and brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Karen Zipern | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.columbia.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Correct connections are crucial
26.06.2017 | Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

nachricht One gene closer to regenerative therapy for muscular disorders
01.06.2017 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Predicting eruptions using satellites and math

28.06.2017 | Earth Sciences

Extremely fine measurements of motion in orbiting supermassive black holes

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Touch Displays WAY-AX and WAY-DX by WayCon

27.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>