Latest Research News

Findings from the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) Study, which followed 2,802 healthy older adults for 10 years, has found that those who participated in computer training designed to improve processing speed and visual attention had a 29% lower risk of developing dementia compared to controls, with more training producing lower risk. Those who received instruction in memory or reasoning strategies showed no change in dementia risk.

A long-running study involving 454 older adults who were given physical exams and cognitive tests every year for 20 years has found that those who moved more than average maintained more of their cognitive skills than people who were less active than average, even if they have brain lesions or biomarkers linked to dementia.

Data from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging, in which nearly 4,000 older adults (60+) had their walking speed assessed on two occasions in 2002-2003 and in 2004-2005, those with a slower walking speed were more likely to develop dementia in the next 10 years. Those who experienced a faster decline in walking speed over the two-year period were also more likely to develop dementia.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-03/ags-oaw032318.php

Data from 196,383 older adults (60+; mean age 64) in the UK Biobank found that a healthy lifestyle was associated with lower dementia risk regardless of genes.

Both an unhealthy lifestyle and high genetic risk were associated with higher dementia risk.

A very long-running study, in which 800 Swedish women (aged 38-54) were followed for 44 years, found that women with a high level of mental activities in midlife were 46% less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease and 34% less likely to develop dementia overall, compared with women with the low level of mental activities. Women who were physically active were 52% less likely to develop dementia with cerebrovascular disease and 56% less likely to develop mixed dementia, compared with women who were inactive.

Various forms of dementia, including Alzheimer's, involve brain network problems. Brain regions are not coordinating as well as they should;

Optimal levels of cardiovascular health in older age associated with lower dementia risk

A French study involving 6,626 older adults (65+) found that having optimal levels in more measures of cardiovascular health (nonsmoking, weight, diet, physical activity, cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure) was associated with lower dementia risk and slower rates of cognitive decline. Dementia risk and rates of cognitive decline lowered with each additional metric at the recommended optimal level.

Although first reported in 1816, the fact that the brain is surrounded by lymphatic vessels, which connect the brain and the immune system, was only rediscovered in 2015.

How alcohol increases Alzheimer's risk

A cell-culture study using rodent microglia found that some of the genes affected by alcohol and inflammation are also implicated in processes that clear amyloid beta, suggesting that alcohol may impede the clearance of amyloid beta in the brain.

A diet containing compounds found in green tea and carrots reversed Alzheimer's-like symptoms in mice genetically programmed to develop the disease. The two compounds were EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), a key ingredient in green tea, and FA (ferulic acid), which is found in carrots, tomatoes, rice, wheat and oats.

A long-running study involving 8225 adults found that self-reported diet during midlife (mean age 50) was not significantly associated with subsequent risk for dementia.

Dietary intake was assessed in 1991-1993, 1997-1999, and 2002-2004, with follow-up for incident dementia until March 31, 2017. Diet quality was assessed using the Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI), an 11-component diet quality score (score range, 0-110), with higher scores indicating a healthier diet.

Dietary choline linked to reduced dementia risk & better cognition

Data from a large, long-running Finnish study, involving some 2,500 men aged 42-60, has found that dietary intake of phosphatidylcholine was associated with a reduced risk of dementia (the risk was 28% lower in men with the highest intake compared to the lowest). Men with the highest intake of dietary phosphatidylcholine also excelled in tests measuring their memory and linguistic abilities.

The key sources of phosphatidylcholine in the study population's diet were eggs (39%) and meat (37%).

High LDL linked to

A mouse study has found that canola oil in the diet was associated with worsened memory, worsened learning ability, and weight gain in Alzheimer's mice.

Canola oil-treated animals also had greatly reduced levels of amyloid beta 1-40 (the “good” version), leading to more amyloid-beta plaques (made from amyloid beta 1-42), and a significant decrease in synapses.

The mice were given the equivalent of about two tablespoons of canola oil daily. The mice began their enriched diet at 6 months of age, before they developed any signs of Alzheimer's.

I rarely report on drugs, but because I do have a number of early reports on the four drugs approved for use with Alzheimer’s, I wanted to provide this update.

Can computer use, crafts and games slow or prevent age-related memory loss?

Americans with a college education live longer without dementia and Alzheimer's

Data from the large, long-running U.S. Health and Retirement Study found that healthy cognition characterized most of the people with at least a college education into their late 80s, while those who didn’t complete high school had good cognition up until their 70s.

Socially active 60-year-olds face lower dementia risk

Data from the Whitehall II study, tracking 10,228 participants for 30 years, found that increased social contact at age 60 is associated with a significantly lower risk of developing dementia later in life. Someone who saw friends almost daily at age 60 was 12% less likely to develop dementia than someone who only saw one or two friends every few months.

Disrupted sleep in one's 50s, 60s raises Alzheimer's risk

A study involving 95 healthy older adults found that adults reporting a decline in sleep quality in their 40s and 50s had more amyloid-beta in their brains later in life, while those reporting poorer sleep in their 50s and 60s had more tau tangles. Those with high levels of tau protein were more likely to lack the synchronized brain waves during deep NREM sleep that are associated with a good night's sleep, and the more tau protein, the less synchronized these brain waves were.

Periodontitis raises dementia risk

A 10-year South Korean study using data from 262,349 older adults (50+) has found that those with chronic periodontitis had a 6% higher risk for dementia than did people without periodontitis. This connection was true despite behaviors such as smoking, consuming alcohol, and remaining physically active.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-03/ags-pmr031519.php

Brain scans from over 4,000 people, across the age range (9 months to 94 years) and including 1,385 Alzheimer's patients, has revealed an early divergence between those who go on to develop Alzheimer’s and those who age normally. This divergence is seen in early atrophy of the

A fruitfly study suggests that losing neurons is not necessarily a bad thing. The study used fruitflies genetically engineered to express human amyloid-beta proteins in their brains. When neuronal death was blocked, the flies developed even worse memory problems, worse motor coordination problems, died earlier and their brain degenerated faster.

Mobile game detects Alzheimer's risk

A specially designed mobile phone game called Sea Hero Quest has found that gaming data can distinguish between those people who are genetically at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease ond those who are not. The game is designed to test spatial navigation skills — one of the first cognitive areas affected in Alzheimer's.

A standard memory and thinking test could not distinguish between the risk and non-risk groups.

Memory tests predict brain atrophy and Alzheimer's disease

Data from the Harvard Aging Brain Study found that higher amyloid beta levels were associated with increasing anxiety symptoms in cognitively normal older adults. The results suggest that worsening anxious-depressive symptoms may be an early predictor of elevated amyloid beta levels.

The study involved 270 cognitively healthy older adults (62-90). For five years, participants were annually assessed for depression, apathy-anhedonia, dysphoria, and anxiety.

A study has shown new technology can quickly and non-invasively detect reduced blood capillaries in the back of the eye that are an early indication of Alzheimer's. It also shows that these signs can help distinguish between Alzheimer's and

A very long-running study involving 290 people at risk of Alzheimer's has found that, in those 81 people who developed

A long-term study of nearly 3,000 older adults (57-85) has found that those who couldn’t identify at least four out of five common odors were more than twice as likely as those with a normal sense of smell to develop dementia within five years.

Of the participants, some 14% could name just three out of five, 5% could identify only two scents, 2% just one, and 1% couldn’t identify a single smell.

Alzheimer's disease is associated with abnormalities in the vast network of blood vessels in the brain, but it hasn’t been known how this affects cognition. A study has now shown that a blood-clotting protein called fibrinogen plays a part.

The study found that fibrinogen, after leaking from the blood into the brain, activates the brain's immune cells and triggers them to destroy synapses, which are critical for neuronal communication.

It’s been known that decreased blood flow in the brain occurs in people with Alzheimer's, and recent studies suggest that brain blood flow deficits are one of the earliest detectable symptoms of dementia. A study has now shown why it occurs: a small percentage of capillaries, the smallest blood vessels in the brain, are blocked by white blood cells stuck to the inside of the capillaries.

Recent research has shown that capilleries are vital for monitoring and directing blood flow around the brain.

New findings identify a mechanism that accelerates aging in the brain and gives rise to Alzheimer's disease.

The findings center on “enhancers”, which turn the activity of genes up or down based on influences like aging and environmental factors. Comparing enhancers in brain cells of people at varying stages of Alzheimer's and healthy people has revealed that in normal aging, there is a progressive loss of important epigenetic marks on enhancers. This loss is accelerated in the brains of people with Alzheimer's.

Aging linked to impaired garbage collection in the brain

A mouse study has shown that, as cells age, their ability to remove damaged proteins and structures declines.

Link found between chronic inflammation and Alzheimer's gene risk

Data from the Framingham Heart Study has found carriers of the ApoE4 gene were much more likely to develop Alzheimer’s if they also had chronic low-grade inflammation. Indeed, the researchers suggest that, in the absence of inflammation, there might be no difference of Alzheimer's risk between ApoE4 and non-ApoE4 carriers.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-10/buso-lfb101818.php

Alzheimer's gene linked to damage to brain connections

A study has found that synapses in people who had died with Alzheimer's contained clumps of clusterin and clumps of amyloid beta. These protein clumps may be damaging the links between neurons.

A study involving 4,050 people with late-onset Alzheimer's disease (mean age 80) has classified them into six groups based on their cognitive functioning at the time of diagnosis. A genetic study found two of the groups showed strong genetic associations.

Five new risk genes for Alzheimer's disease

Genetic data from more than 94,000 individuals has revealed five new risk genes for Alzheimer's disease, and confirmed 20 known others. The new genes are: IQCK, ACE, ADAM10, ADAMTS1 and WWOX.

The findings support developing evidence that groups of genes associated with specific biological processes, such as cell trafficking, lipid transport, inflammation and the immune response, are "genetic hubs" that are an important part of the disease process.

Accumulating evidence suggests that tau spreads through brain tissue like an infection, traveling from

Alzheimer's gene affects IQ from childhood

Analysis of some old longitudinal studies has found that those carrying the APOE4 gene scored lower on IQ tests during childhood and adolescence. The effect was much stronger in girls than in boys, and affected reasoning most strongly.

IQ scores were lower by 1.91 points for each APOE4 allele carried. But boys scored only an average of 0.33 points lower, while girls scored almost 3 points lower for each APOE4 allele.

Almost all the participants (92%) were white.

Data from a ten-year study involving 345 Alzheimer's patients has found that cholinesterase inhibitors work better with those who don't have the gene CHRFAM7A.

Poor sleep has been associated with the development of Alzheimer's disease, and this has been thought to be in part because the protein amyloid beta increases with sleep deprivation. A new study explains more.

Experiments with mice show that sleep deprivation also rapidly increases levels of the other key Alzheimer’s disease protein, tau tangles.

The work built on findings that tau is high in older people who sleep poorly, and that, when people are kept awake all night, their tau levels rise by about 50%.

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