Brain shrinkage in Alzheimer's seen years before symptoms

Shrinking brain areas in people with Alzheimer's disease can be identified 10 years before symptoms appear, a US study suggests.

MRI scans were used in study (Photograph: SPL)
MRI scans were used in study (Photograph: SPL)

Reductions in the thickness of the brain's cortex could be used to identify those at risk and when the disease might develop, researchers said.

Scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital in Charlestown, Massachusetts, used MRI scans to study 65 cognitively normal adults over an 11-year period.

They found that around half of the participants who had reduced cortical thickness went on to develop Alzheimer's, compared with none of those who did not show reductions.

These reductions also predicted the time to diagnosis of Alzheimer's. One standard deviation reduction in thickness was associated with a three-fold increase in risk of developing the disease.

Writing online in the journal Neurology, the researchers said: 'The present data demonstrate that in cognitively normal older adults a thinner cerebral cortex in regions typically affected by Alzheimer's disease is predictive of time to onset of Alzheimer's disease dementia.'

The researchers said changes in cortical thickness could be used as a measure of early neurodegenerative change in preclinical Alzheimer's disease.

They said the finding provided 'an additional tool to link the biological changes of the disease with the symptoms of the illness'.

GP Online recommends

Neurology

Read more

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

MPs demand overhaul of 'entire approach to pension tax relief' ahead of budget

MPs demand overhaul of 'entire approach to pension tax relief' ahead of budget

MPs have called on chancellor Rishi Sunak to 'urgently reform the entire approach...

Government must halt 'stealth privatisation' of dozens of GP practices, warns Labour

Government must halt 'stealth privatisation' of dozens of GP practices, warns Labour

Labour has urged the government to halt the 'stealth privatisation' of dozens of...

RCGP demands independent review to check for BAME bias in CQC ratings

RCGP demands independent review to check for BAME bias in CQC ratings

CQC inspections on all practices rated 'requires improvement' or 'inadequate' in...

COVID-19 funding for general practice cannot stop in March, GPs warn chancellor

COVID-19 funding for general practice cannot stop in March, GPs warn chancellor

COVID-19 support funding for general practice must be increased and extended beyond...

Plan to freeze pensions lifetime allowance risks 'catastrophic impact' on medical workforce

Plan to freeze pensions lifetime allowance risks 'catastrophic impact' on medical workforce

The BMA has demanded urgent meetings with the Treasury and DHSC amid fears chancellor...

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

GPs across the UK are playing a leading role in the largest-ever NHS vaccination...