Researchers at Rush University Medical Center found that having complaints about memory problems is associated with changes in the brain related to Alzheimer’s disease. They reported their findings in the November 2006 issue of Neurology.
The researchers looked at the association between memory problems reported by study participants and signs of disease found in their brains after death. The study looked at autopsies of 90 older adults from the Rush Memory and Aging Project. The study included both participants who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (23) and those that showed no clinical signs of the disease (67).
“One of the most interesting findings of the study was that individuals who had yet to have any clinical symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease still showed a strong link between their self-reported memory complaints and brain pathology associated with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Lisa L. Barnes, PhD, from the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center. “This information may allow us to use memory complaints as a measure to intervene at an early point in the disease process.”
To measure memory complaints participants were asked two questions:- How often do you have trouble remembering things?
The researchers then compared this scale with the levels of damage to the brain revealed during autopsy. The damage specifically looked at was the amount of amyloid plaques and tau tangles in the brain at the time of death. These plaques and tangles are the type of damage most closely linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers found that each unit of Alzheimer-related pathology was associated with one point higher score on the memory complaint scale. “Our results suggest that older persons with and without dementia possess some insight to their level of functioning, and this insight is related to actual changes in the brain,” said Barnes. “The data suggests that if you’re having complaints there’s probably something going on. In other words, if mom notices that there’s something different about her memory, we need to listen closely and investigate further.”
The study shows that memory complaints should be taken seriously and not seen as just part of the aging process. “In my opinion, it is possible to preserve your memory into old age,” said Barnes. “Memory loss is not an inevitable consequence of aging.
In fact, if you think you are having memory problems, you should probably see your doctor. As Barnes noted, “although not all memory complaints will lead to Alzheimer’s disease, our data support the idea that memory complaints in older adults may represent the presence of significant Alzheimer’s disease pathology in the brain.”
“I don’t want to cause concern for people who experience occasional memory loss, like losing their keys or forgetting their wife’s birthday,” said Barnes. “The important point in our study was that the people who hadn’t developed Alzheimer’s disease by the time they died, but complained about their memory performance, already had Alzheimer’s pathology in their brains. We don’t know whether they might have eventually developed the disease had they lived longer. The data suggest, however, that memory complaints may be an early sign of disease in some people.”
The researchers at Rush are grateful for the remarkable dedication and altruism of the volunteers participating in the Rush Memory and Aging Project. The research was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging, which leads the Federal effort to support and conduct basic, clinical, and social and behavioral studies on aging and on Alzheimer’s disease.
Mary Ann Schultz | EurekAlert!
Laser activated gold pyramids could deliver drugs, DNA into cells without harm
24.03.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
What does congenital Zika syndrome look like?
24.03.2017 | University of California - San Diego
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy