Tag Archives: Alzheimer disease

Poor sleep linked to increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Researchers have discovered that daytime sleepiness might cause brain build-ups leading to Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Via Pixabay/gracic

Elderly people feeling drowsy during the day due to poor sleep or waking up in the night had a greater build-up in their brain of amyloid plaques which consume the brain, kill cells, and eventually lead to total memory loss. And this makes sense: recent studies have shown that while the brain sleeps, it clears away deposits of amyloid.

Even though previous research showed a correlation between sleepiness and AD, scientists wondered if the accumulation of amyloid plaques in the patients’ brains caused sleep problems or if it was the other way around.

Now, a team led by Mayo Clinic’s Prashanthi Vemuri has cast light on the subject: sleep itself seems to be causing the plaque accumulation that triggers the neurodegenerative disease.

“This study is the first in humans to demonstrate a predictive association between a measure of sleep disturbance at baseline and change in an AD [Alzheimer’s disease] biomarker across multiple points,” Joseph R. Winer and Bryce A. Mander, of the University of California, wrote in an editorial published with the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The research team studied 283 people aged 70 or older without dementia from the center’s Study of Aging. Each participant completed surveys that assessed their general sleepiness and had at least two consecutive imaging scans of their brains from 2009 to 2016. The scans monitored the difference in amyloid plaque quantity between two scans in different regions of the brain.

Researchers discovered that 63 participants (22.3%) had excessive daytime sleepiness, and this was associated with increased amyloid plaque accumulation in susceptible regions of the brain.

“We found that daytime sleepiness was causing more deposition of amyloid in people who are already amyloid positive, so it was influencing the rate of deposition over time,” Dr. Vermuri said.

Although the study seems to establish causation between sleep patterns and amyloid accumulation, the team still has no definitive answer to why and how sleep has this effect.

However, experts consider this study a breakthrough, believing the findings underline the importance of good sleep for preserving brain health.

“This study and others present evidence that poor sleep quality may be an early warning sign of AD-related processes,” Winer and Mander wrote. “Although a better understanding of the role of sleep in the AD cascade could soon lead to effective sleep-based therapies, at present, maintaining healthy sleep and treating clinical sleep disorders must be a current priority for mental health in older adults.:

A type 2 diabetes drug might treat Alzheimer’s

A three-agent drug used to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus shows significant results for boosting memory and learning skills in aging mice suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Neurological degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or Huntington’s, share common features with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Aging, high-cholesterol levels, neuronal degeneration, blood vessel abnormalities, increased oxidative stress and increased inflammatory response are some of the shared features.

Source: Pixabay/GDV

Insulin is a pancreatic hormone that allows glucose to pass from the bloodstream through the cell’s membrane. In type 2 diabetes, insulin is still produced, but at lower levels, and some peripheric tissues become resistant to it. This pathology affects all cells, but the neuron is one of the biggest victims of glucose deprivation. The incidence of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurological disorders is higher in type 2 diabetes patients, suggesting that they have similar causes of development. This information gave scientists the idea of using diabetic drugs to treat neurological diseases.

The triple agent drug tested on transgenic mice by professor Christian Holscher from Lancaster University contains GLP-1, GIP, and glucagon. GLP-1 and GIP are two incretins, gastrointestinal hormones that increase insulin production and act as brain growth factors.

Via Pixabay/silviarita

The researchers induced mutations in the APP/PS1 genes of the mice, to make them resemble human patients suffering from a form of hereditary Alzheimer’s. Next, scientists tested aging mice who received the antidiabetic treatment in a maze and compared their performances to a group of controls. The results showed that treated mice had enhanced cerebral activity, solving the maze faster than the others. The researchers found higher levels of brain growth factors, reduced amyloid plaques (found in Alzheimer’s), reduced chronic inflammation, reduced oxidative stress, and slowed the rate of brain cell loss.

“These very promising outcomes demonstrate the efficacy of these novel multiple receptor drugs that originally were developed to treat type 2 diabetes but have shown consistent neuro-protective effects in several studies”, said professor Christian Holscher to the Lancaster Guardian journal.

Via Pixabay/qimono

Dr. Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer’s Society, which co-funded this study, openly supports the research.

“Although the benefits of these ‘triple agonist’ drugs have so far only been found in mice, other studies with existing diabetes drugs such as liraglutide have shown real promise for people with Alzheimer’s, so further development of this work is crucial”, he stated in a press release.

The paper was published in the journal Brain Research on the first day of this year.

alzheimer brain scan

Blood test for Alzheimer’s detects the disease with 90% accuracy

Considering population growth and increased life expectancy, experts estimate that by  2050 some 115 million people will be afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease – a prevailing neurodegenerative disease that needs no introduction. There’s no cure to Alzheimer’s, but there are treatments that help mild symptoms or prolong sanity before the point of no return is reached. All of these treatments, however, require diagnosing the disease early on for them to have any lasting effect. Current methods are difficult, expensive and not that reliable.

Neuroscientists at  University of California (UC) claim it may be possible to predict with 90% accuracy whether older people will develop the disease over the course of 2 to 3 years simply by looking at a blood sample. If these results can be replicated and the method is found reliable, it could potentially revolutionize the way Alzheimer is being treated today, especially considering there are many voices in the medical field today that call for more drug testing in the disease’s early stage in hope that a cure may actually be found.

A blood test for Alzheimer’s?

The most reliable diagnosis tool for Alzheimer’s involves a brain autopsy. Obviously, it’s as useful as a horse with no legs. Next in the line is extracting fluid from the spinal cord and measuring hallmark protein levels, which is damn painful. Less invasive is running brain scan images in search for the same  protein plaques and tangles in brain tissue which mark the disorder. Neither method, except the autopsy, is that reliable though.

In contrast, if found indeed accurate, the sort of blood test the UC researchers perform is extremely simple to do, doesn’t involve any pain or brain slashing, and may prove to be reliable.

alzheimer brain scan

Image shows two brain scans: top healthy brain; bottom alzheimer’s diseased brain. photo: oenolog.ro

The researchers first recruited a couple hundred senior volunteer and collected blood samples, which they then froze and had them shipped to a lab where a mass spectrometer analyzed the blood’s chemical markup to the last molecule. For three years, the progress of the volunteers was followed and   53 people were identified with mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease,  18 of whom had not displayed any symptoms at the beginning of the study. Scientists made a comparative analysis of the 53 seniors with Alzheimer’s against 53 other from the same group, chosen at random that were not diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or exhibited any symptoms.

Those who showed mental decline exhibited significant alterations in the blood levels of 10 different chemicals,  including fatty molecules called phospholipids, which help keep cell membranes in the brain and body intact. To see how accurate to truth their correlation was, the researchers then chose 41 volunteers at random to see if they could predict if any of them would get Alzheimer’s. Their analysis proved to be 90% accurate of the time.

This sounds like a huge big deal; and frankly, I think it is. Before these results are replicated with larger groups and by other independent research groups, some scientists advise, it’s best not to get our hopes up just yet. Anyone can get Alzheimer’s, really, a fact reflect by the extremely diverse population of patients. It’s possible that the blood tests performed in the present study only catered to a couple of similarities, but on real tests with millions of patients, it’s possible the blood test might become overwhelmed by too many conditions and fail as a reliable diagnosis tool.

Still, the implications of such a simple tool would be immense and could help millions of people ‘waiting’ to be gripped by dementia prolong their sanity and maybe even aid in developing the next line of treatments that might ultimately lead to a cure. Many such studies “have turned out to be a flash in the pan,” says Robert Green, a medical geneticist at Harvard University, but the new study “is more sophisticated than most.”

Findings were published in Nature Medicine.

New ways to detect Alzheimer found

Alzheimer is one of the nastiest diseases you can get; it is a degenerative disease that affects your brain cells, and as far as we know, the best way to prevent it is by being mentally active throughout your life. The most recent study conducted about it takes a look at ways of detecting the disease in its initial stages. The results give scientists a greater understanding of the changes that are triggered during the initial stages, and may help individuals at risk.

According to the Alzheimer Association, 5.3 million people are suffering from the disease, and as world population continues to age, it will definitely affect more and more people, so detecting Alzheimer early, in potentially treatable stages could be the key to fighting it.

“Identifying those at risk for Alzheimer’s and developing new treatments for nervous system disorders is a social imperative,” said press conference moderator Sam Sisodia, PhD, of the University of Chicago, an expert on the cellular biology of proteins implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. “These studies are evidence that we’re making real progress to overcome this tragic epidemic.”

Also, the research also found that a new vaccine tested in mice could protect against memory loss caused by Alzheimer disease, without any potential harmful side effects. However, with this study, as well as the other ones before it, the progress is not that big. There still isn’t a single definite way of detecting or treating the disease, but hopefully, these small steps forward will pave the way for it as time passes.

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Low Education Level Linked To Alzheimer’s

 

diploma

There are some very dangerous diseases which it is very hard to fight against. Alzheimer makes the sick man lose parts of his memory and makes him forget the easiest things like dressing himself or finding the way back home. It appears mostly in older people. But a according to a study published in the October 2, 2007, issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology the people who have not graduated from high school are at a higher risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than the people with more education, regardless of lifestyle choices and characteristics.

The study conducted in Finland followed 1,388 participants through middle-age and late life for an average of 21 years. The participants were divided into three levels: five or fewer years of education (low), six to eight years (medium) and nine or more years of education (high), the Finnish equivalent of elementary, middle and high school levels. It showed that those with a medium education level had a 40-percent lower risk of developing dementia and those with a high education level had an 80-percent lower risk. Makes sense since those with higher studies, especially those with college degrees mostly have healthier lifestyles and their brain is more trained so to say.

“Generally speaking, people with low education levels seem to lead unhealthier lifestyles, which could suggest the two work concurrently to contribute to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, but our results showed a person’s education predicted dementia on its own,” said study author Tiia Ngandu, MD, PhD, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and University of Kuopio, Finland. “It may be that highly educated people have a greater cognitive reserve, which is the brain’s ability to maintain function in spite of damage, thus making it easier to postpone the negative effects of dementia. Additionally, unhealthy lifestyles may independently contribute to the depletion of this reserve.”.

So start learning or make the kids start learning because 40 years from now it just may be what saves you – something definitely important, considering that over half of all Alzheimer’s cases could be avoided.