A study recently published in the journal Nature Medicine by researchers from the University of Southern California found that Alzheimer’s disease could be early diagnosed by studying if the brain’s vessels leak blood.
In their study, the authors explain that the results of their findings came from analyzing the data of 161 older adults over five years. The patients that had the most severe decline had a higher leakage in the brain’s blood vessels, irrespective of the presence (or lack) of amyloid and tau – Alzheimer’s-related proteins.
The senior author of the study, Dr. Berislav Zlokovic, who is also the director of the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute (University Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles), explains that this research paper could help the early diagnose of Alzheimer’s. He also added in the university’s press release that the findings could help with the development of a new drug that might slow or even prevent the disease:
The fact that we’re seeing the blood vessels leaking, independent of tau and independent of amyloid, when people have cognitive impairment on a mild level, suggests it could be a totally separate process or a very early process.
That was surprising, that this blood-brain barrier breakdown is occurring independently.
In some people, as they get older, the blood-brain barrier that should prevent harmful substances reach the brain gets weaker. Arthur Toga, the co-author of the study and the director of the Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute at Keck, added that when the blood-brain barrier doesn’t properly work, it could damage the brain:
It suggests the vessels aren’t properly providing the nutrients and blood flow that the neurons need. And you have the possibility of toxic proteins getting in.
The research is far from being over, as scientists continue to learn how soon mental decline occurs after the brain blood vessels begin leaking.
According to the CDC, the number of people in America with Alzheimer’s would triple to 14 million by 2060.
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere