Cognition-Based Screening for Alzheimer's Disease Before Onset of Symptoms

Monday, June 5, 2017

Previously, positron emission tomography (PET) scans and analyzing cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) could diagnose Alzheimer’s disease by indicating the presence of amyloid plaques, which were thought to start building up long before any cognitive symptoms were evident; however, these technologies are expensive, invasive, and/or difficult to access. A neuropsychologist at the University of Southern California, Duke Han, wanted to determine whether he could use cognitive tests in correlation with the disease biomarkers to create a more practical test for screening and diagnosis. The team’s meta-analysis reviewed 61 studies and found that people with amyloid plaques, confirmed with PET scans or CSF analysis, demonstrated poorer performance on various cognitive tasks than those with no plaques. In addition, individuals with tau pathology and/or degeneration of the brain exhibited worse cognition than those with amyloid plaques. “The presumption has been that there would be no perceivable difference in how people with preclinical Alzheimer's disease perform on cognitive tests,” Han pointed out. “This study contradicts that presumption.” The results, he argues, warrant routine cognitive testing for older adults; baseline data would aid in detecting neurodegenerative diseases early, and when caught early, there is greater potential to protect and maintain cognition through taking drugs and making lifestyle changes. “The earlier you know that you’re at risk for developing [Alzheimer’s disease,] the more you can potentially do to help stave off that diagnosis in the future.”

SOURCE: Science Daily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170531092607.htm

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: Springer: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11065-017-9345-5

DATE RETRIEVED: June 2, 2017

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