Brain`s metabolism can predict Alzheimer`s progress: Study

Jerusalem: Brain`s metabolism can offer clues to the progression of Alzheimer`s with 90 per cent accuracy, scientists say.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University found that in very early stages of the disease, before any symptoms appear, metabolic processes are already beginning to change in the brain.

Lead researcher Shiri Stempler and colleagues have developed predictor models that use metabolic information to pinpoint the progression of Alzheimer`s.

These models were 90 per cent accurate in predicting the stage of the disease.
The research is the first step towards identifying biomarkers that may ensure better detection and analysis of the disease at an early stage, all with a simple blood test.

"We hope that by studying metabolism, and the alterations to metabolism that occur in the very early stages of the disease, we can find new therapeutic strategies," Stempler said in a statement.

Researchers used data collected from the hippocampus region of the brain. Controlling memory and learning, this region of the brain is damaged as Alzheimer`s progresses.

Based on the number of metabolic genes found in the neurons and surrounding tissue, they built a predictive model which relates abnormalities in these genes to the progression of the disease.

Out of almost 1500 genes, the researchers were able to select 50 genes that were the most predictive of Alzheimer`s, noting that in Alzheimer`s patients these genes are either over or under expressed, meaning that there are either too many or too few.

When they compared the findings from these 50 genes among Alzheimer`s patients, healthy patients, and primates (including chimpanzees and rhesus monkeys), researchers discovered that in all but the Alzheimer`s group, the number of the specific genes was tightly limited, with little difference in their number between individuals among each of the species.

This implies that these genes are significant to normal brain functioning, and their strict regulation in healthy patients is compromised by Alzheimer`s disease.

"The correlation between metabolic gene expression and cognitive score in Alzheimer`s patients is even higher than the correlation we see in medical literature between beta amyloid plaques - found in deposits in the brains of Alzheimer`s patients - and cognitive score, pointing to a strong association between cognitive decline and an altered metabolism," Stempler said.
The study was published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging.


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