Elevated levels of amyloid may indicate a decrease in cognitive function


Michael C. Donohue from the University of Southern California in San Diego and his colleagues conducted a study to characterize and quantify the risk of developing a cognitive disorder associated with Alzheimer’s disease. It turned out that among the participants in the group, which included people with “normal” cognitive development, those who had an elevated level of amyloid protein were more likely to experience cognitive decline in later years. Details of their results, the scientists outlined in an article publishedin the journal JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) /
Cerebrospinal fluid and positron emission tomography were used for the measurements. The analysis was performed on a set of cognitive and biomarker (i.e., amyloid) data of 445 cognitive-normal individuals that were observed for several years (maximum 10.3 years) in the framework of the Alzheimer’s Disease Alzheimer’s Initiative (ADNI).
Among the participants (of them a normal level of amyloid and 202 with an elevated one), the average age was 74 years. The researchers found that – in comparison with the normal group – patients with elevated amyloid had worse average cognitive performance for four years.
“Although the interpretation was influenced by the insignificant percentage of participants observed for 10 years, the results suggest that preclinical Alzheimer’s disease [AD], defined as an elevated level of amyloid in the brain of a clinically normal person, may represent a pre-symptomatic stage of AD.
Although this work did not establish a causal relationship with an elevated level of amyloid and subsequent weakening of cognitive function, these results support the findings of other studies pointing to the critical role of amyloid in AD neurobiology, “the authors of the study maintain.

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