Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Early warning signs of Alzheimer’s show up across cognitive areas years before official diagnosis

01.08.2005


Swedish meta-analysis of 47 scientific studies finds clear patterns across thousands of people who went on to be diagnosed with the disease



By combing through dozens of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) studies, psychologists have gained a clear picture of cognitive problems in people who will develop the degenerative brain disease. The meta-analysis reveals that people can show early warning signs across several cognitive domains years before they are officially diagnosed, confirming that Alzheimer’s causes general deterioration and tends to follow a stable preclinical stage with a sharp drop in function. The findings appear in the July issue of Neuropsychology, which is published by the American Psychological Association.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute and Stockholm Gerontology Research Center, affiliated also with the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and the University of South Florida, crunched the data from a decade’s worth of studies: Published reports that met stringent criteria had records on 1,207 people with preclinical Alzheimer’s (they later developed the disease) and 9,097 controls who stayed healthy.


Neuropsychologists are striving to understand the preclinical stage for two reasons: On the theoretical level, understanding the transition from normal aging to dementia is vital to understanding how the disease evolves. On the clinical level, treatment can work best when doctors can identify at-risk individuals as early as possible.

The authors studied 47 peer-reviewed studies published between January 1985 and February 2003. The year 1985 marked the introduction of more systematic and reliable diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer’s.

The analysis showed that no matter what kind of study, people at the preclinical stage showed marked preclinical deficits in global cognitive ability, episodic memory, perceptual speed, and executive functioning; along with somewhat smaller deficits in verbal ability, visuospatial skill, and attention. There was no preclinical impairment in primary memory.

The generalized nature of the problem is consistent, say the authors, with recent observations that multiple brain structures and functions are affected long before the AD diagnosis. They remind readers that the deficits seen in preclinical AD mirror quite closely those seen in normal aging, such as impairments in episodic memory, executive functioning, and cognitive speed. Still, says lead author Lars Bäckman, PhD, these problems are exacerbated in those who will go on to be diagnosed with dementia.

He explains, "There are no clear qualitative differences in patterns of cognitive impairment between the normal old 75-year old and the preclinical AD counterpart. Rather, we think of the normal elderly person, the preclinical AD person, and the early clinical AD patient as representing three instances on a continuum of cognitive capabilities. This presents an obvious challenge for accurate early diagnosis."

The data also supported the emerging consensus that AD’s preclinical period is characterized by an early onset followed by relative stability until a few years before diagnosis, when functioning plummets.

Bäckman and his colleagues endorse a multi-variable approach to understanding the preclinical stage of AD because this approach will help clinicians to more accurately predict the likelihood of disease.

The study traced other interesting patterns. People younger than 75 years at baseline were more impaired at the outset than people older than 75 at baseline. Impairment was also greater for the patients with shorter periods (fewer than three years) to diagnosis. These findings suggest that preclinical impairment is greater when the disease starts younger and progresses more quickly, due to more widespread and severe brain lesions among younger cases.

Pam Willenz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.apa.org

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Penn study identifies new malaria parasites in wild bonobos
21.11.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

nachricht NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures
17.11.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

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: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers at IST Austria define function of an enigmatic synaptic protein

22.11.2017 | Life Sciences

Fine felted nanotubes: CAU research team develops new composite material made of carbon nanotubes

22.11.2017 | Materials Sciences

Women and lung cancer – the role of sex hormones

22.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>