Home » The signs of Alzheimer’s can be detected 18 years before diagnosis: what are they?

The signs of Alzheimer’s can be detected 18 years before diagnosis: what are they?

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The signs of Alzheimer’s can be detected 18 years before diagnosis: what are they?

Scientists Discover Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease 20 Years Before Diagnosis

A groundbreaking study conducted by a Chinese research team has revealed the early biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease, shedding light on the progression of the neurodegenerative condition. The study, which followed thousands of individuals for a span of 20 years, identified the sequence in which these predictive signs appear, providing crucial insights into early detection and potential treatment options.

The research, led by scientists from the Innovation Center for Neurological Disorders – Department of Neurology of Xuanwu Hospital, observed that the first biomarkers of Alzheimer’s become visible as early as 18 years before diagnosis. These biomarkers, including variations in protein concentrations such as beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles, as well as alterations in brain tissue, occur in a defined sequence leading up to the pathological condition of Alzheimer’s.

This study is particularly significant as it focuses on the sporadic form of Alzheimer’s, the most common type of dementia worldwide. While hereditary forms of the disease have been studied extensively, this research offers valuable insights into the temporal progression of biomarkers in the sporadic form, enhancing our understanding of the disease’s development.

By analyzing data from the China Cognition and Aging Study (COAST), researchers were able to track the evolution of these biomarkers in participants over the 20-year period. They found that the concentration of beta-amyloid 42 in the cerebrospinal fluid was the earliest signal to emerge, followed by changes in beta-amyloid 40, tau phosphorylated protein, neuronal damage markers, and hippocampal atrophy.

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Furthermore, the study identified a genetic variant, APOE4, which was more prevalent in the Alzheimer’s group compared to the control group. This genetic variant, associated with lipid metabolism in the brain, has been linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

The findings of this study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, have significant implications for early diagnosis and targeted interventions for Alzheimer’s disease. With the number of individuals affected by Alzheimer’s expected to triple by 2050, identifying these early biomarkers and genetic risk factors could pave the way for more effective therapies and prevention strategies in the future.

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