While two chemical markers in the spinal fluid are regarded as reliable indicators of early disease, the new study, published in JAMA Neurology, is among the first to show that scans of brain networks may be an equally effective and less invasive way to detect early disease.
"Tracking damage to these brain networks may also help us formulate a more detailed understanding of what happens to the brain before the onset of dementia," said senior author Beau Ances, MD, PhD, associate professor of neurology and of biomedical engineering.
Diagnosing Alzheimer's early is a top priority for physicians, many of whom believe that treating patients long before dementia starts greatly improves the chances of success.
Ances and his colleagues studied 207 older but cognitively normal research volunteers at the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Washington University. Over several years, spinal fluids from the volunteers were sampled multiple times and analyzed for two markers of early Alzheimer's: changes in amyloid beta, the principal ingredient of Alzheimer's brain plaques, and in tau protein, a structural component of nerve cells.
The volunteers were also scanned repeatedly using a technique called resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). This scan tracks the rise and fall of blood flow in different brain regions as patients rest in the scanner. Scientists use the resulting data to assess the integrity of the default mode network, a set of connections between different brain regions that becomes active when the mind is at rest.
Earlier studies by Ances and other researchers have shown that Alzheimer's damages connections in the default mode network and other brain networks.
The new study revealed that this damage became detectable at about the same time that amyloid beta levels began to rise and tau levels started to drop in spinal fluid. The part of the default mode network most harmed by the onset of Alzheimer's disease was the connection between two brain areas associated with memory, the posterior cingulate and medial temporal regions.
The researchers are continuing to study the connections between brain network damage and the progress of early Alzheimer's disease in normal volunteers and in patients in the early stages of Alzheimer's-associated dementia.
Funding from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NS06833), the National Instititute of Mental Health (P30NS048056, K23MH081786), the National Institute on Aging (R01AG034119, R01AG029672, P01AG50837, Po1AG026276, P01AG03991, PS0AG05681, U19AG032438), the American Roentgen Ray Society, the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (3255ADRC26), the National Institute of Nursing Research (R01NR012907, R01NR012657, R01NR014449), and the Alzheimer's Association supported this research.
Wang L, Brier MR, Snyder AZ, Thomas JB, Fagan AM, Xiong C, Benzinger TL, Holtzman DM, Morris JC, Ances BM. Cerebrospinal fluid amyloid beta 42, phosphorylated tau, and resting state functional connectivity. JAMA Neurology, August 19, 2013.
Washington University School of Medicine's 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked sixth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.
Michael C. Purdy | EurekAlert!
Diabetes: A next-generation therapy soon available?
17.10.2019 | Université de Genève
CNIO researchers obtain the first mice born with hyper-long telomeres
17.10.2019 | Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas (CNIO)
A very special kind of light is emitted by tungsten diselenide layers. The reason for this has been unclear. Now an explanation has been found at TU Wien (Vienna)
It is an exotic phenomenon that nobody was able to explain for years: when energy is supplied to a thin layer of the material tungsten diselenide, it begins to...
Researchers at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have explored the initial consequences of the interaction of light with molecules on the surface of nanoscopic aerosols.
The nanocosmos is constantly in motion. All natural processes are ultimately determined by the interplay between radiation and matter. Light strikes particles...
Particles that are mere nanometers in size are at the forefront of scientific research today. They come in many different shapes: rods, spheres, cubes, vesicles, S-shaped worms and even donut-like rings. What makes them worthy of scientific study is that, being so tiny, they exhibit quantum mechanical properties not possible with larger objects.
Researchers at the Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility located at DOE's Argonne National...
A new research project at the TH Mittelhessen focusses on the development of a novel light weight design concept for leisure boats and yachts. Professor Stephan Marzi from the THM Institute of Mechanics and Materials collaborates with Krake Catamarane, which is a shipyard located in Apolda, Thuringia.
The project is set up in an international cooperation with Professor Anders Biel from Karlstad University in Sweden and the Swedish company Lamera from...
Superconductivity has fascinated scientists for many years since it offers the potential to revolutionize current technologies. Materials only become superconductors - meaning that electrons can travel in them with no resistance - at very low temperatures. These days, this unique zero resistance superconductivity is commonly found in a number of technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Future technologies, however, will harness the total synchrony of electronic behavior in superconductors - a property called the phase. There is currently a...
02.10.2019 | Event News
02.10.2019 | Event News
19.09.2019 | Event News
17.10.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
17.10.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
17.10.2019 | Life Sciences