Prenatal Heavy Cannabis Exposure May Diminish Cognitive Functioning Into Adulthood

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ryan J. McLaughlin, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Integrative Physiology & Neuroscience College of Veterinary Medicine Washington State University Pullman, WA 99164-7620

Dr. McLaughlin

Ryan J. McLaughlin, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Integrative Physiology & Neuroscience
College of Veterinary Medicine
Washington State University
Pullman, WA 99164-7620

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: The use of cannabis during pregnancy is a growing health concern, yet the long-term cognitive ramifications for developing offspring remain largely unknown. Human studies exploring the long-term effects of maternal cannabis use have been sparse for several reasons, including the length and cost of such studies, as well as the fact that experimentally assigning mothers to smoke cannabis during pregnancy is obviously ethically impractical. Animal models of maternal cannabis use have been advantageous in this respect, but they have been limited by the drugs used (synthetic cannabinoids vs. THC vs. cannabis plant) and the way that they are administered. In our study, we used a more translationally relevant animal model of maternal cannabis use that exposes pregnant rat dams to whole plant cannabis extracts using the intra-pulmonary route of administration that is most common to human users. Our preliminary data indicate that twice-daily exposure to a high-dose cannabis extract during pregnancy may produce deficits in cognitive flexibility in adult rat offspring. Importantly, these rats did not experience general learning deficits, as they performed comparably to non-exposed offspring when required to follow a cue in their environment that dictate reinforcer delivery. Instead, deficits were observed only when rats were required to disregard this previous cue-based strategy and adopt a new egocentric spatial strategy in order to continue receiving the sugar reinforcers.

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Critical Illness: Haloperidol and Ziprasidone for Treatment of Delirium

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Brenda Truman Pun, DNP, RN Program Clinical Manager Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Dr. Truman Pun

Brenda Truman Pun, DNP, RN
Program Clinical Manager
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Delirium is a serious problem in Intensive Care Units around the world. Approximately 80% of mechanically ventilated patients develop delirium, acute confusion, while in the ICU. Once thought to be a benign side effect of the ICU environment, research now shows that delirium is linked to a myriad of negative outcomes for patients which include longer ICU and Hospital stays, prolonged time on the ventilator, increased cost, long-term cognitive impairment and even mortality. For a half a century clinicians have been using haloperidol, an typical antipsychotic, to treat delirium in the ICU. However, there has never been evidence to support the use of haloperidol or its pharmacologic cousins, the atypical antipsychotics, to treat delirium. These drugs have serious side effects that include heart arrhythmias, muscle spasms, restlessness and are associated with increased mortality when given for prolonged periods in the outpatient settings leading to a black box warning for their use in this setting.

The MIND-USA study was a double blind placebo controlled trial which evaluated the efficacy and safety of antipsychotics (i.e., haloperidol and ziprasidone) in the treatment delirium in adult ICU patients.   Continue reading

Is Pregnancy a “Stress Test” for Future Dementia Risk?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"Pregnancy 1" by operalynn is licensed under CC BY 2.0Heather Boyd, Ph.D.
Senior researcher
Department of Epidemiology Research
Copenhagen Denmark

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We have known for a while that women who have had preeclampsia report different types of cognitive impairment (difficulties with short-term memory, attention deficits) in the years and decades after their pregnancies, and there are a few imaging studies suggesting that these women may have more white matter lesions in the brain and more signs of brain atrophy than women with uncomplicated pregnancies. We also know that women who have had preeclampsia are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease in the years and decades after delivery. Taken together, it was not a great leap to hypothesize that women with a history of preeclampsia might also be at increased risk of dementia later in life. However, the existing epidemiological data were unconvincing, possibly because it takes a great deal of power (a very large study population) to study links between two conditions that often occur decades apart.

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Mild Cognitive Decline 2-6 Months After Heart Valve Surgery

MedicalResearch.com Interview with

Mark Oldham, M.D. Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Medical Director, PRIME Medicine Proactive Integration of Mental Health Care in Medicine University of Rochester Medical Center

Dr. Oldham

Mark Oldham, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Medical Director, PRIME Medicine
Proactive Integration of Mental Health Care in Medicine
University of Rochester Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Patients who have undergone coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery and, specifically, those who have been placed on cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) have received attention for the potential effects of such procedures on brain health. Heart valve surgery patients have received far less attention, which often leaves clinicians to extrapolate the data from CABG cohorts to their patients preparing to undergo valve surgery. However, there are many reasons why this is far less than ideal, especially as the CABG literature increasingly points to person- and procedure-specific factors as the determinants of postoperative cognitive outcomes.

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Brain Imaging Reveals How Prolonged Intermittent Cannabis Can Induce Memory Deficits

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Italia V. Rolle, PhD and Dr. Tim McAfee, MD Office on Smoking and Health National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion CDC

Ana Maria Sebastião, PhD
Professor of Pharmacology and Neurosciences
Director Institute of Pharmacology and Neurosciences, Faculty of Medicine and
Francisco Mouro, PhD
Unit of Neurosciences, Institute of Molecular Medicine
University of Lisbon, Portugal

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: There is pressing need to comprehend how cannabinoid exposure impacts brain functioning. While cannabinoid-related research has increased exponentially in the last decade, the mechanisms through which cannabinoids affect brain functioning are still elusive. Specifically, we need to know how prolonged cannabinoid exposure affects important cognitive processes, such as memory, and also find the roots of those effects. This is particularly relevant considering that several countries have already approved cannabis-based medicines.

In this sense, our work sheds new light into the mechanisms underlaying the memory-deficits provoked by a continuous exposure to a cannabinoid drug. More precisely, using brain imaging techniques, we found that long-term exposure to a synthetic cannabinoid drug impairs the ability of key brain regions involved in learning and memory to communicate with each other. Our data points to the necessity of considering cannabinoid actions in a broader perspective, including brain circuitry and communication.  Continue reading

Forgetting To Do Things? Try Acting in Advance

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr Antonina Pereira - CPsychol, PhD, FHEA, AFBPsS Head of Department of Psychology & Counselling University of Chichester Chichester, West Sussex UK

Dr. Pereira

Dr Antonina Pereira – CPsychol, PhD, FHEA, AFBPsS
Head of Department of Psychology & Counselling
University of Chichester
Chichester, West Sussex UK

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Prospective memory (PM) is the ability to remember to perform future activities, such as remembering to take medication or remembering to attend an appointment. Prospective memory tasks pervade our daily lives, and PM failures, although sometimes merely annoying (e.g., forgetting an umbrella at home on a rainy day), can have serious and even life-threatening consequences (e.g., forgetting to turn off the stove).

The fulfilment of such delayed intended actions can indeed be an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease, with prospective memory failures representing one of the most prominent memory concerns in older adulthood and a fundamental requirement for independent living across the lifespan.

We aimed to address this issue by exploring the potential benefits of a purposefully designed technique, encoded enactment, where participants were encouraged to act through the activity they must remember to do.

This particular study was the fruit of an international research collaboration led by the University of Chichester and including members from Radboud University Nijmegen, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon.

Our team has explored the potential benefits of this specific encoding strategy for healthy younger adults, healthy older adults as well as for patients with mild cognitive impairment.

Results were very encouraging: All age groups reported improvement in prospective memory, but this was particularly evident in older patients with mild cognitive impairment, that is, potentially in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

The study suggests that encouraging people in this category to adopt enactment as a means to enhance prospective memory could result in them leading independent, autonomous lives for longer.

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Are Well-Off People Protected from Dementia?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Dorina Cadar
Research Associate in Dementia
Psychobiology Group
Department of Behavioural Science and Health
University College London
London

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Dementia is one of the most feared medical conditions, which represents a significant global challenge to health and social care.

Education may serve different roles in the development of dementia: it is a proxy for early life experiences and (parental) socioeconomic status, it is related to future employment prospects, income and wealth, determines occupational exposures and characteristics of adult life (e.g., job complexity, work stress, environmental exposures) and it provides lifelong skills for optimal mental abilities and mastery. However, given that education is typically completed many decades before dementia onset, other individual and area-based components of socioeconomic status, such as wealth, income and area deprivation may provide a more accurate indication of current socioeconomic resources.  Also, at older ages, accumulated wealth represents a more robust measure of socioeconomic resources than income or occupation alone.

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Brain Structure, Height and Cognitive Ability Linked

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Eero Vuoksimaa PhD Institute for Molecular Medicine University of Helsinski Finland

Dr. Vuoksimaa

Dr. Eero Vuoksimaa PhD
Institute for Molecular Medicine
University of Helsinski
Finland

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There are many previous reports indicating a positive association between height and cognitive ability but the underlying mechanisms behind this correlation are not well known. We used a mediation model to test if this association is explained by brain size as measured with cortical grey matter size.

We found that total cortical surface mediated the relationship between height and cognitive ability.

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Some Depression and Overactive Bladder Drugs Linked to Dementia

Medicalresearch.com Interview with:

Professor Phyo Kyaw Myint Chair in Old Age Medicine University of Aberdeen

Prof. Myint

Professor Phyo Kyaw Myint
Chair in Old Age Medicine
University of Aberdeen

Medicalresearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: We have previously studied the potential harmful effects of a group of medications called anticholinergics. They can have side effects on central as well peripheral systems. The link between use of these drugs and dementia is less well understood due to limitations of previous studies.

We used large GP practices data from the UK with long term follow up and examined this association using robust statistical methods.

Medicalresearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: Key findings are:

  • Drugs with anticholinergic properties which are used to treat depression, urological conditions (e.g. for overactive bladder) and Parkinsonism are linked to development of dementia.
  • Drugs with similar properties which are used to treat gut disorders and heart conditions are not found to be linked to dementia
  • Drugs with low level of anticholinergic effect are not linked to dementia

Medicalresearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Clinicians should use the drugs with high level of anticholinergic burden cautiously. Also attempts should be made whenever appropriate to reduce or replace with similar drugs but without such properties.

Medicalresearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: We need to ensure confounding effects are minimised by conducting carefully designed prospective studies. Further clinical trial evidence of benefit of deprescribing of these medications (when possible) in at risk populations is also urgently warranted.

Medicalresearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add? Any disclosures?

Response: In the absence of trial evidence, this study provides best available evidence using robust statistical methods in the largest study of its kind and will help clinicians in making treatment choices for the benefit of the patients.

Citation:

Anticholinergic drugs and risk of dementia: case-control study

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k1315 (Published 25 April 2018)Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k1315

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

 

 

 

Diet Soda and Excess Sugar During Pregnancy May Depress Child’s Cognition

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Soda” by Jannes Pockele is licensed under CC BY 2.0Juliana F. W. Cohen, ScM, ScD

Department of Health Sciences
Merrimack College
North Andover MA 01845.

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Sugar consumption among Americans is above recommended limits and this excess intake may have important health implications.

This study examined the associations of pregnancy and offspring sugar consumption, as well as sugar-sweetened beverages, other beverages (diet soda, juice), and fruit consumption with child cognition.

This study found that when pregnant women or their children consumed greater quantities of sugar, as well as when women consumed diet soda during pregnancy, this was associated with poorer childhood cognition.  However, children’s fruit consumption was associated with higher cognitive scores.

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Link Between Epilepsy Drugs and Increased Risk of Dementia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Britta Haenisch, PhD

Pharmacoepidemiology in Neurodegenerative Disorders
German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases,
DZNE 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) have been shown to affect cognition by suppressing neuronal excitability and increasing inhibitory neurotransmission. Previous studies suggested that AEDs may be associated with cognitive adverse effects. Therefore, we evaluated the association between AED use and incident dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

We utilized large longitudinal datasets from Finnish health registers and from German health insurance data. The case-control analyses was adjusted for several potential confounders like comorbidities and polypharmacy. The inclusion of a lag time between . Antiepileptic drugs use and dementia diagnosis allowed minimization of protopathic bias.

Our study provides an association between regular prescription of  antiepileptic drugs with known cognitive adverse effects and the occurrence of dementia and AD in patients aged 65 years and older.  Continue reading

Despite Advancing Neonatal Health, Preterm Babies Still Risk Cognitive Impairment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Sabrina Twilhaar, MS, PhD candidate Child Study Group, sectie Klinische Neuropsychologie Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Sabrina Twilhaar

Sabrina Twilhaar, MS, PhD candidate
Child Study Group, sectie Klinische Neuropsychologie
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: It is well-known that preterm birth has negative consequences for cognitive development.

During the early 1990s important progress in neonatal health care resulted in a considerable increase in the survival of preterm infants. Earlier meta-analyses showed large differences in intelligence between very preterm and full-term born children. However, these meta-analyses included mostly studies on children born before 1990. Because of the advances in neonatal health care since that time, it was important to update our knowledge on the outcomes of more recently born preterm infants. We combined the results of 71 studies, together including 7752 very preterm and 5155 full-term born children, and found a difference in intelligence between very preterm and full-term children that was still large.

Interestingly, despite advancing neonatal health care, we also found no indication of improvement in the cognitive outcomes of very preterm born children during the period from 1990 to 2008. In addition, we searched for factors that increase the risk for poor cognitive outcomes in these children and we found that children with a chronic lung disease that is amongst others caused by mechanical ventilation of the immature lungs are even more at risk for poor cognitive outcomes.

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What is the Biggest Modifiable Risk Factor For Dementia? Alcohol

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“undefined” by Iñaki Queralt is licensed under CC BY 2.0Michaël Schwarzinger, MD, PhD

Translational Health Economics Network (THEN)
Paris

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The association of heavy drinking with dementia has been known for decades. For instance, there is about no Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome without heavy drinking and the syndrome was described in 1890. But this type of dementia is very rare. Also, heavy drinking is knowingly associated with multiple risk factors for dementia onset such as hypertension or diabetes. But heavy drinkers generally refuse to participate to cohort studies and declaration of alcohol use among participants is generally biased downward… So the study rationale is very strong, but supporting empirical evidence is quite scarce.

This nationwide study included all 31+ million adults discharged from hospitals over 6 years, i.e., 50% of the French population before 65 years old and 80% above that age. Of 1.1+ million adults diagnosed with dementia, one in twenty had an early-onset (before 65 years old). Heavy drinking was recorded in most (56%) early-onset dementia cases: two-third in men; one-third in women. In addition, the association of heavy drinking with dementia goes far beyond 65 years old, both directly (>3 times higher risk for dementia onset after controlling for more than 30 known risk factors for dementia) and indirectly as heavy drinking was associated with all other independent risk factors for dementia onset. Accordingly, heavy drinking had the largest effect on dementia risk of all independent modifiable risk factors such as hypertension or diabetes.

The effects were found whatever dementia case definition or population studies.

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Low Sodium Levels Linked To Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Kristen L. Nowak PhD Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Aurora, CO 80045

Dr. Nowak

Dr. Kristen L. Nowak PhD
Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Aurora, CO 80045

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  

Response: Subtle impairments in cognition are common with aging, even in the absence of clinically apparent dementia. Mild hyponatremia is a common finding in older adults; however, the association of lower serum sodium with cognition in older adults is currently uncertain.

We hypothesized that lower normal serum sodium would be associated with prevalent cognitive impairment and the risk of cognitive decline over time in asymptomatic, community-dwelling older men.

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Daytime Light Important For Brain Health

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Lily Yan MD PhD Department of Psychology & Neuroscience Program Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 48824 

Dr. Lily Yan

Dr. Lily Yan MD PhD
Department of Psychology & Neuroscience Program
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

  • The effects of light on cognitive function have been well-documented in human studies, with brighter illumination associated with better cognitive performance. However, the underlying neural mechanisms are not well understood.
  • In this study, we explored the mechanisms of how light modulates spatial learning and memory, using diurnal Nile grass rats. In contrast to most laboratory animals that are active at night and fall asleep following light exposure, these animals are active during the day, thus an ideal model for understanding the effects of light on humans.
  • When the animals were housed in dim light during the day, mimicking the cloudy days or typical indoor lighting, the animals had a ~30% reduction in the dendritic spines, which make the connection between brain cells, within the hippocampus, a brain region critical for learning and memory. Animals housed in dim light also performed poorly in a water maze, compared to those housed in bright light.
  • When the animals that had been in dim light were then housed in bright light for 4 weeks, the connections in their hippocampus and performance in the water maze recovered fully. 

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Personality Changes Can Presage Cognitive Impairment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Richard J. Caselli MD Department of Neurology Mayo Clinic Arizona Scottsdale, AZ 

Dr. Caselli

Richard J. Caselli MD
Department of Neurology
Mayo Clinic Arizona
Scottsdale, AZ  

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Personality changes are common in patients with a variety of dementing illnesses, and underlie the behavioral disturbances that complicate the course of dementia patients.  We have a been conducting a large longitudinal study of cognitive aging in individuals at genetically defined risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) based on their APOE genotype, and have been administering a large battery of neuropsychological tests as well as the gold standard personality questionnaire (the NEO-PI-R) in order to determine whether personality changes during the transition from normal cognition/preclinical AD to mild cognitive impairment.   Continue reading

Brain Imaging Associated With Heritable Cognitive Ability and Psychopathology

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“The Fourth Sex: Adolescent Extremes” by Victor Soto is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dag Alnaes, PhD
Norwegian Centre for Mental Disorders Research
KG Jebsen Centre for Psychosis Research
Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital
Oslo, Norway 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The transition from childhood to adulthood is characterized by swift and dramatic changes, both in our environment and in our brains. This period of life also coincides with the onset of many mental disorders.

To gain a better understanding of why, the clinical neurosciences must attempt to disentangle the complex and dynamic interactions between genes and the environment and how they shape our brains. The ultimate goal is to be able to predict which individuals are at risk before clinical symptoms appear. Advanced brain imaging has been proposed to represent one promising approach for such early detection, but there is currently no robust imaging marker that allows us to identify individuals at risk with any clinically relevant degree of certainty.

Our study shows that self-reported early signs of mental illness are associated with specific patterns of brain fiber pathways in young people, even if they may not fulfill criteria for a formal diagnosis or are currently in need of treatment.  Continue reading

Not Clear That Physical Activity Programs Reduce Cognitive Decline

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Exercise” by Diabetes Education Events is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Michelle Brasure, MSPH, PhD, MLIS
Evidence-based Practice Center
School of Public Health
University of Minnesota 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We conducted a large systematic review to assess the evidence relating to interventions to prevent cognitive decline and dementia. We included experimental studies with follow up times of at least six months. This paper analyzes the physical activity interventions; other papers in this issue address other types of interventions.

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Hearing Loss Associated With Higher Risk of Cognitive Decline and Dementia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Hear” by Jaya Ramchandani is licensed under CC BY 2.0David G. Loughrey, BA(Hons)

NEIL (Neuro Enhancement for Independent Lives) Programme
Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, School of Medicine
Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Age-related hearing loss, a common chronic condition among older adults, has emerged in the literature as a potential modifiable risk factor for dementia. This is of interest as current pharmacological therapies for dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease only offer symptom-modifying effects. Treatment of risk factors such as hearing loss may help delay the onset of dementia and may provide an alternate therapeutic strategy. However, there is variance in the research on hearing loss and cognition with some studies reporting a small or non-significant association. In this meta-analysis, we investigated this association and we only included observational studies that used standard assessments of cognitive function and pure-tone audiometry (the clinical standard).

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Thinking Abilities May Decline After Treatment For Head and Neck Cancers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Lori J Bernstein, PhD, CPsych Neuropsychologist, Dept. of Supportive Care Core Member, Cancer Rehabilitation & Survivorship Program ELLICSR Centre for Health Wellness and Cancer Survivorship Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, UHN Clinical Research Unit Member, Princess Margaret Research Institute Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine University of Toronto Adjunct Faculty, Graduate Program in Psychology, York University

Dr. Bernstein

Lori J Bernstein, PhD, CPsych
Neuropsychologist, Dept. of Supportive Care
Core Member, Cancer Rehabilitation & Survivorship Program
ELLICSR Centre for Health Wellness and Cancer Survivorship
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, UHN
Clinical Research Unit Member,
Princess Margaret Research Institute
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine
University of Toronto
 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Despite the increasing role of (chemo-)radiation treatment for head and neck cancer (HNC), and involvement of central nervous system structures in the radiation field, we don’t know a lot about whether there are short or long term consequences in thinking abilities in survivors. So our question was this: Do people treated for head and neck cancer with radiation or chemoradiation have short or long term neurocognitive deficits after treatment?

We assessed head and neck cancer patients and healthy non-cancer controls four times, first at baseline (after diagnosis but before treatment), and then again 6, 12, and 24 months later. We found that compared to the controls, patients decline over time in several different neurocognitive domains, including concentration, verbal memory, and executive function. We found that as many as 38% of patients suffered from impaired global neurocognitive functioning by two years after treatment compared to none of the controls.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: The findings indicate that some (but not all) head and neck cancer survivors are at risk of suffering from declines in thinking abilities such as attention and memory. These changes can be subtle and increase gradually. We didn’t follow people beyond 2 years after treatment, so we don’t know whether these deficits would improve, worsen, or stabilize after that.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Longer longitudinal follow-up is needed to determine if symptoms change after 2 years. More investigation of the relationships between treatment variables such as radiation dosing and long term neurocognitive function is important. Further research is also needed to find ways to avoid, reduce and compensate for declines.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: We are extremely grateful to the people who participated in this study. We plan to reassess participants for several more years, so we hope to know more about even longer term cognitive function in people treated for head and neck cancer. In addition, I want to acknowledge that we could not have done this work without the support of the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation and The Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Alona Zer, Gregory R. Pond, Albiruni R. Abdul Razak, Kattleya Tirona, Hui K. Gan, Eric X. Chen, Brian O’Sullivan, John Waldron, David P. Goldstein, Ilan Weinreb, Andrew J. Hope, John J. Kim, Kelvin K. W. Chan, Andrew K. Chan, Lillian L. Siu, Lori J. Bernstein. Association of Neurocognitive Deficits With Radiotherapy or Chemoradiotherapy for Patients With Head and Neck Cancer. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online November 22, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2017.2235

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Infectious Prions Detected in Skin of Patients With Neurodegenerative Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

The brain of one patient who died from sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (sCJD) appears nearly identical to the brain of a mouse inoculated with infectious prions taken from the skin of patients who died from sCJD.

The brain of one patient who died from sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (sCJD) appears nearly identical to the brain of a mouse inoculated with infectious prions taken from the skin of patients who died from sCJD.
Case Western Reserve University

 

Byron Caughey, Ph.D.
Senior Investigator
Chief, TSE/prion Biochemistry Section
Laboratory of Persistent Viral Diseases
NIH/NIAID Rocky Mountain Laboratories
Hamilton, MT 

 

 

MedicalResearch.com: Would you briefly explain what is meant by Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease?

Response: Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is an incurable—and ultimately fatal—transmissible, neurodegenerative disorder in the family of prion diseases. Prion diseases can be found in many mammalian species and are due to the conversion of normally harmless prion protein molecules into abnormally folded, aggregated and self-propagating clusters and filaments in the brain. The accumulation of these clusters has been associated with tissue damage that often leaves dying neurons and microscopic sponge-like holes in the brain. In the sporadic and genetic forms of CJD this pathogenic process appears to arise spontaneously in the patient.

However, the transfer of the prion protein aggregates from a Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease patient into another human or experimental animal can initiate the pathogenic process in the recipient. These infectious forms of prion protein are called prions. Human prion diseases include fatal insomnia; kuru; Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker syndrome; and variant, familial and sporadic CJD. Sporadic CJD is the most common human prion disease, affecting about one in one million people annually worldwide. Other prion diseases include scrapie in sheep; chronic wasting disease in deer, elk and moose; and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, in cattle.

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Adherence to HIV Treatment May Protect Brain From Further Injury

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ryan Sanford

Ryan Sanford

Ryan Sanford, MEng
Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery
Montreal Neurological Institute
McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada
 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: With the introduction of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) the outlook for HIV+ individuals has dramatically shifted from a fatal disease to a chronic manageable condition. However, HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders are still prevalent. The etiology of this dysfunction remains unknown. Previous work has reported progressive brain atrophy in HIV+ individuals with advanced disease and poor viral suppression, but it is unclear whether stable treatment and effective viral suppression can mitigate the progression of brain atrophy. To examine this issue, we followed well-treated HIV+ individuals with good viral suppression and well-matched controls, and assessed whether ongoing brain atrophy occurs over time.

The main finding in this study was the HIV+ participants had reduced brain volumes and poorer cognitive performance compared to the control group, but the changes in brain volumes and cognitive performance were similar between the groups.

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Single Injection of Klotho Gene Protected Animals From Cognitive Decline

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr Miguel Chillon PhD Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Universitat Autonoma Barcelona Spain

Dr. Chillon

Dr Miguel Chillon PhD
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Universitat Autonoma Barcelona
Spain

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Klotho is a protein with an anti-aging and neuroprotective role. Recent studies show it prevents the development of cognitive problems associated with aging and Alzheimer’s disease. Klotho works mainly by inhibiting the insulin / IGF-1 signaling pathway and decreasing the damage caused by oxidative stress in the brain. One of the latest results revealed that the concentration of Klotho in cerebrospinal fluid is significantly lower in Alzheimer’s patients than in human controls of the same age; and it is lower in the elderly with respect to young adults.

Our study used a gene therapy strategy to introduce the Klotho gene into the Central Nervous System of adult animals. With just a single injection of the Klotho gene, young adult animals were protected over time from the cognitive decline associated with aging in old animals. These exciting results pave the way to further advances in research and the development of a neuroprotective therapy based on Klotho.

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Marijuana Use Linked To Cognitive Impairment In HIV Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Richard Saitz, MD, MPH, FACP, DFASAM Department of Community Health Sciences Boston University School of Public Health Clinical Addiction Research and Education (CARE) Unit Section of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicin Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center Boston , Massachusetts

Dr. Saitz

Richard Saitz, MD, MPH, FACP, DFASAM
Department of Community Health Sciences
Boston University School of Public Health
Clinical Addiction Research and Education (CARE) Unit
Section of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicin
Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center
Boston , Massachusetts

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Many people living with HIV infection use alcohol and other drugs including marijuana. People with HIV infection are also susceptible to cognitive dysfunction from many causes from HIV infection itself to aging.

The main findings were that among people with HIV and substance use disorder, lifetime marijuana and alcohol use were not associated with cognitive dysfunction, likely due to competing risks.  But current marijuana use was associated with cognitive dysfunction.

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Dementia Incidence Lower For Atrial Fibrillation Patients Treated With Anticoagulation

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Leif Friberg MD, PhD Associate professor in cardiology Karolinska Institute Friberg Resarch Stockholm, Sweden 

Dr. Leif Friberg

Dr. Leif Friberg MD, PhD
Associate professor in cardiology
Karolinska Institute
Friberg Resarch
Stockholm, Sweden 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: I have been doing research on atrial fibrillation and stroke risk for many years and knew that the very common heart arrhythmia is associated with a 40% increased risk of dementia. Considering that that 12-15% of 75 years olds have this arrhythmia, and even more at higher ages, the problem is significant to say the least.

The mechanism behind stroke in atrial fibrillation is that blood clots are formed in the heart. When these are dislodged they travel with the blood stream and may get stuck in the narrow vessels of the brain where they stop blood flow causing brain infarction or stroke. Oral anticoagulant drugs like warfarin or the newer so called NOAC (new oral anticoagulant) drugs are highly efficient in preventing formation of these large blood clots and offer at least 70% risk reduction. Now, blood clots come in different sizes. There are also microscopic clots that do not cause symptoms of stroke but all the same eat away at the brain at a slow but steady pace. Imaging studies shows this after only a few months or even weeks of atrial fibrillation. Our hypothesis was therefore: If anticoagulants are so effective in protecting against large clots, will they not help against the small ones too?

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