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 Unique brain 'fingerprint' can predict drug effectiveness
11.07.2018 | McGill University

nachricht Direct conversion of non-neuronal cells into nerve cells
03.07.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

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: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Subaru Telescope helps pinpoint origin of ultra-high energy neutrino

16.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Barium ruthenate: A high-yield, easy-to-handle perovskite catalyst for the oxidation of sulfides

16.07.2018 | Life Sciences

New research calculates capacity of North American forests to sequester carbon

16.07.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>