Tuesday, 03 January 2012 20:30
As many as 91 percent of the patients with mild memory impairment who had these risk markers went on to develop Alzheimer's within a 10-year period
The first changes in the brain of a person with Alzheimer’s disease can be observed as much as 10 years in advance—10 years before the person in question has become so ill that he or she can be diagnosed with the disease. This is what a new study from Lund University in Sweden has found.
Physician Oskar Hansson and his research group are studying biomarkers—substances present in spinal fluid and linked to Alzheimer’s disease. The group has studied close to 140 people with mild memory impairment, showing that a certain combination of markers (low levels of the substance beta-amyloid and high levels of the substance tau) indicate a high risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in the future.
As many as 91 percent of the patients with mild memory impairment who had these risk markers went on to develop Alzheimer’s within a 10-year period. In contrast, those who had memory impairment but normal values for the markers did not run a higher risk of getting Alzheimer’s than healthy individuals. Oskar Hansson previously carried out a study showing that pathological changes can be seen in the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient five years before the diagnosis. The new study has thus doubled this time span to ten years.