Alzheimer’s disease patients show a relentless decline in memory over the course of the disease, which is accompanied by both brain atrophy and by characteristic deposits in the brain tissue called amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences studied a large database, collected in the US, of patients with Alzheimer’s or memory complaints who had MRI scans and had spinal taps to collect cerebrospinal fluid, which is in the brain and spinal chord. By examining the CFS they could measure the amounts of the substances that make p plaques and tangles, and related this to brain atrophy.
They found that the amount of plaque and tangle-producing chemicals in the cerebrospinal fluid correlated with brain tissue loss in selective regions of the brain which are typically affected in Alzheimer’s disease. The brains in these regions had thinned out suggesting that brain cells had died. These regions are important for memory and are typically active when the brain is at rest.
Using these techniques may ultimately help identify early markers of disease in Alzheimer’s, potentially indicating who is likely to develop Alzheimer’s before memory loss is critical.
Authors: J Jiang, S Wang, X Zhen, Z Yao, C Xu, T Jiang, AD NI3 LIAMA Center for Computational Medicine, National Laboratory of Pattern Recognition, Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 100190, Beijing, China
Source: Organization for Human Brain Mapping