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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Patients With Dementia Less Likely To Receive Chemotherapy for Colon Cancer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Yingjia Chen, M.Sc, MPH, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellow University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Chen

Yingjia Chen, M.Sc, MPH, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
University of California, San Francisco 

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

Response: Both colon cancer and dementia are prevalent among the elderly and have a high risk of co-occurrence. Previous studies found that patients with dementia were treated less aggressively. In this study, we hypothesized that presence of pre-existing dementia was associated with worse survival for stage III colon cancer patients, and that post-operative chemotherapy was on the causal pathway.

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OCD Not Associated With Above-Average Intelligence

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Amitai Abramovitch, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Psychology Texas State University

Dr. Abramovitch

Amitai Abramovitch, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology
Texas State University

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

Response: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is associated with moderate degree of underperformance on several cognitive tests such as processing speed, and some higher order functions such as planning and inhibition. While this does not constitute a clinically meaningful impairment on these functions, we set out to explore the prevailing myth that OCD is associated with above-average intelligence. This myth, that was propagated by Sigmund Freud 115 years ago and is still surprisingly all too prevalent –  was never tested empirically. The notion of above average intelligence in OCD didn’t make sense to us given that IQ tests are comprised of subtests that assess cognitive function. To test this, we collected all the available data ever published in the scientific literature regarding IQ in OCD versus control samples, and conducted a meta-analysis. Our results show that OCD is not associated with higher IQ than average. In fact we found a slightly lowered IQ in OCD compared to controls, although IQ scores for OCD samples were in the average range. The total IQ score (Full Scale IQ) is comprised of two subscales, namely Verbal IQ, and Performance IQ.

Our results show that reduced Full Scale IQ stems primarily from lowered Performance IQ, a scale that is comprised of a number of timed tests. In other words, as opposed to Verbal IQ tests, test scores on Performance IQ subtests rely heavily on performance within a specific time frame, and not only on performance accuracy.

Thus, our findings suggest that reduced processing speed found in OCD could lead to reduced Performance IQ, and subsequently lead to lowered Full Scale IQ, and may not be indicative of specific cognitive deficits. This finding suggests that IQ tests administered to individuals diagnosed with OCD may result in a biased Full Scale IQ scores that does not accurately reflect their full intellectual potential.

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Dementia Incidence Rates May Be Declining

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Carol A. Derby, Ph.D. Research Professor, The Saul R. Korey Department of Neurology Research Professor, Department of Epidemiology & Population Health Louis and Gertrude Feil Faculty Scholar in Neurology Albert Einstein College of Medicine Bronx, NY 10461

Dr. Derby

Carol A. Derby, Ph.D.
Research Professor, The Saul R. Korey Department of Neurology
Research Professor, Department of Epidemiology & Population Health
Louis and Gertrude Feil Faculty Scholar in Neurology
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Bronx, NY 10461

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

Response: The population over the age of 85 is expected to triple in the coming decades, and with the aging of the population, the number of individuals living with dementia is projected to increase dramatically.

While dementia prevalence rates are driven by demographic shift to older ages, changes in dementia incidence- the rate at which new cases are diagnosed, would also impact the proportion of the population affected in the coming decades.

Recently, studies have suggested that dementia incidence rates may be declining in some populations, although the results have not been consistent. Better understanding trends in dementia rates is important for public health planning.

Our objective was to determine whether there has been a change in the incidence of dementia diagnosis within a community residing group of over older adults followed by the Einstein Aging Study, at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in the Bronx, NY between the years 1993 and 2015.

To accurately characterize trends over time in disease rates requires separating the effects of age and the effects of calendar time. Therefore, we conducted a birth cohort analysis in which we examined age specific dementia incidence rates by birth year, for individuals born between 1910 and 1940. The analysis included over 1300 individuals over the age of 70, who were free of dementia when they enrolled in the study. Dementia was diagnosed using identical criteria over the entire study period, and study recruitment was also consistent over the period. We also examined trends in cardiovascular co-morbidities that have been related to dementia risk, as well as trends in education.  Continue reading

Sleep-Disordered Breathing Associated With Increased Risk of Cognitive Impairment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Yue Leng, M.Phil, MD, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Department of Psychiatry,
University of California, San Francisco
SFVAMC 

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

Response: Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is a very common but treatable condition in older adults. Recent evidence has suggested a link between SDB and cognitive decline in the elderly, but previous studies have been conflicting and have used different methods to examine SDB or cognition. Therefore, it is difficult to draw conclusion on the consistency of this association based on each individual study. Moreover, because each study has reported on specific domains using different scales, it is unclear if Sleep-disordered breathing has differential effects on cognitive domains.

The current study is the first to quantitively synthesize all published population-based studies, which covers a total of over 4 million adults, and concluded that people with Sleep-disordered breathing were 26% more likely to develop cognitive impairment than those without SDB. They also had slightly worse performance in executive function but not in global cognition or memory.  Continue reading

MRI Biomarkers Track Cognitive Impairment Due to Head Trauma

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Virendra Mishra, Ph.D. Department of Imaging Research Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas

Dr. Virendra Mishra

Virendra Mishra, Ph.D.
Department of Imaging Research
Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas

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

Response: Repetitive head trauma has been shown to be a risk factor for various neurodegenerative disorders, mood swings, depression and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. There has been a significant amount of research into identifying an imaging biomarker of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) due to repetitive head trauma. Unfortunately, most of the biomarkers have not been able to find a successful translation to clinics. Additionally, the quest for the mTBI imaging biomarker especially using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) techniques has been done by looking at either the gray matter (T1-weighted) or the white matter (Diffusion Tensor Imaging) independently; and both have shown changes that are associated with repetitive head trauma.

Hence in this study, we wanted to investigate if combining gray matter and white matter information enables us to better predict the fighters who are more vulnerable to cognitive decline due to repetitive head trauma. Our method found seven imaging biomarkers that when combined together in a multivariate sense were able to predict with greater than 73% accuracy those fighters who are vulnerable to cognitive decline both at baseline and follow-up. The imaging biomarkers were indeed a combination of gray and white matter measures of regions reported previously in the literature. A key point in our study was we found the regions predicting cognitive decline without enforcing any assumptions on the regions previously reported.

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Dementia Care Management Improved Quality of Life For Both Caregivers and Patients With Dementia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jochen René Thyrian, PhD German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) Greifswald, Germany     

Dr. Thyrian

Jochen René Thyrian, PhD
German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)
Greifswald, Germany

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

Response: Dementia presents a challenge to the health care systems worldwide. People with dementia (PWD) need comprehensive medical, nursing, psychological and social support to delay the progression of disease and sustain autonomy and social inclusion. Evidence-based interventions alleviate the burden of disease for PwD and their caregivers, as no curative treatment is currently available. Involving caregivers is important because they provide the largest proportion of care for PwD. General physicians in residency have been identified as the first point of contact for PwD and is thus a promising setting for identification, comprehensive needs assessment and initiating dementia-specific treatment and care.

In this study we tested the effectiveness and safety of a model of collaborative care, Dementia Care Management (DCM) on patient-oriented outcomes in n=634 people screened positive for dementia in primary care. DCM is provided by specifically trained nurses, supported by a computerized intervention management system, in close cooperation with the treating physician at the people´s homes. Recommendations for improving treatment and care were based on a comprehensive needs assessment, discussed interprofessionally and their implementation monitored/ adjusted over the course of 6-12 months

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Menopause Facilitates Transmission of Cognitive Resources To Grandchildren

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

“Grandmother” by Joe Shlabotnik is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“Grandmother” by Joe Shlabotnik

Carla Aimé PhD
Institute of Evolutionary Sciences of Montpellier
France

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

Response:  In all human populations, regardless of environmental and socioeconomic conditions, menopause occurs in women well before the end of their expected lifespan. Conversely, extensive post-reproductive life-span is rare in other species; except in some cetaceans. Evolutionary theory predicts that menopause and extensive post-reproductive lifespan should emerge and persist in populations only if it is advantageous for gene transmission. Identifying this advantage is a long-standing issue, and some hypotheses has already been suggested by other researchers. However, testing these hypotheses about the emergence of menopause is difficult, in particular because menopause exists today in all human populations. It is thus not possible to measure in real life the evolutionary advantage related to menopause by comparing gene transmission of women who stop reproduction and women who don’t stop reproduction. Here, we used computer simulations to overcome this difficulty by modeling the emergence of menopause in simulated human populations.

The main finding were the following :

– Physiological constraints are not required for menopause to emerge.

– The increasing cost of reproduction with age cannot explain menopause.

– Grandmothering is part of the process leading to menopause : stopping reproduction allow reallocating resources to existing children and grand-children, thus leading to increase gene transmission via increased fertility of children and survival of grand children

– Cognitive resources are also important. Indeed, cognitive abilities allow accumulation of skills and experience over the lifespan, thus providing an advantage for resource acquisition. These surplus resources can then be used to increase the number of offspring or be transmitted to existing offspring and grandoffspring. Stopping reproduction during aging allows allocating more resources to assist offspring and grandoffspring, thus increasing children’s fertility and grandchildren’s survival.

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Genetic Risk of Schizophrenia May Contribute to Cognitive Dysfunction

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Olav B. Smeland MD PhD Postdoctoral researcher SFF NORMENT, KG Jepsen Centre for Psychosis Research, Division of Mental  Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital & Institute of Clinical Medicine University of Oslo Oslo, Norway

Dr. Smeland

Olav B. Smeland MD PhD
Postdoctoral researcher
SFF NORMENT, KG Jepsen Centre for Psychosis Research, Division of Mental
Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital & Institute of Clinical Medicine
University of Oslo Oslo, Norway

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

Response: Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder associated with widespread cognitive impairments. The cognitive deficits are associated with disabilities in social, economic and occupational functioning and lower quality of life among individuals with schizophrenia. Despite this, current treatment strategies largely fail to ameliorate these cognitive impairments.

To develop more efficient treatment strategies in schizophrenia, a better understanding of the disease mechanisms underlying cognitive deficits is needed. For a long time we have known that schizophrenia is heritable, and in recent years many schizophrenia risk genes have been identified. Moreover, several studies have indicated that genetic risk of schizophrenia may contribute to cognitive dysfunction.

In this study, we aimed to identify schizophrenia risk genes that also influence cognitive function. In a large international collaboration of researchers, we combined genome-wide association studies on schizophrenia and the cognitive traits of verbal-numerical reasoning, reaction time and general cognitive function. In total, we analyzed genetic data from more than 250.000 participants. We were able to identify 21 genetic variants shared between schizophrenia and cognitive traits. For 18 of these genetic variants, schizophrenia risk was associated with poorer cognitive performance.

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Daily Crossword Puzzles May Help Sustain Brain Function As We Age

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Professor Keith A. Wesnes BSc PhD FSS CPsychol FBPsS Head Honcho, Wesnes Cognition Ltd Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, Medical School, University of Exeter, UK Visiting Professor, Department of Psychology, Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK Adjunct Professor, Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia Visiting Professor, Medicinal Plant Research Group, Newcastle University, UK Wesnes Cognition Ltd, Little Paddock, Streatley Hill, Streatley on Thames UK

Prof. Wesnes

Professor Keith A. Wesnes
BSc PhD FSS CPsychol FBPsS
Head Honcho, Wesnes Cognition Ltd
Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, Medical School, University of Exeter, UK
Visiting Professor, Department of Psychology
Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK
Adjunct Professor, Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia
Visiting Professor, Medicinal Plant Research Group
Newcastle University, UK
Wesnes Cognition Ltd, Little Paddock, Streatley Hill, Streatley on Thames UK 

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

Response: This data we reported were taken from the PROTECT study, a 10-year research programme being conducted jointly by Kings College London and the University of Exeter Medical School. It started in November 2015 and over 20,000 individuals aged 50 to 96 years have enrolled.

A highly novel feature of the study is that it is run entirely remotely, the participants logging on via the internet at home and providing demographic and life style information, and also performing online cognitive tasks of key aspects of cognitive function. The tasks are from two well-validated systems, CogTrack and the PROTECT test system, and assess major aspects of cognitive function including focused and sustained attention, information processing, reasoning and a range of aspects of memory.

One of the lifestyle questions was ‘How frequently do you engage in word puzzles, e.g. crosswords?’ and the 6 possible answers were: never; occasionally; monthly; weekly; daily; more than once per day. We analysed the cognitive data from 17,677 individuals who had answered the question, and found that the more often the participants reported engaging in such puzzles, the better their cognitive function on each of the 9 cognitive tasks they performed. The group who never performed such puzzles were poorest on all measures, and the improvements were mostly incremental as the frequency of use increased. The findings were highly statistically reliable, and we controlled for factors including age, gender and education. To evaluate the magnitudes of these benefits, we calculated the average decline over the age-range on the various tasks in the study population. The average difference between those who ‘never’ did puzzles to those who did so ‘more than once a day’ was equivalent to 11 years of ageing; and between those who never did puzzles and all those who did was 8 years.

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Paper and Digital SAGE Brain Tests Equally Identify Cognitive Impairment and Dementia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Douglas W. Scharre MD Professor of Clinical Neurology and Psychiatry Director Division of Cognitive Neurology, Department of Neurology  Director, Center for Cognitive and Memory Disorders Director, Memory Disorders Research Center Co-Director, Neuroscience Research Institute Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center  Columbus, OH

Dr. Douglas Scharre

Douglas W. Scharre MD
Professor of Clinical Neurology and Psychiatry Director, Division of Cognitive Neurology
Department of Neurology
Director, Center for Cognitive and Memory Disorders
Director, Memory Disorders Research Center
Co-Director, Neuroscience Research Institute
Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
Columbus, OH

 

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

Response: Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE) is a pen-and paper, valid and reliable cognitive assessment tool for identifying individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or early dementia. We published age and education normative data on SAGE and determined that one point be added to the scores when age over 79 and one point be added when education level is 12 years or less. We evaluated the identical test questions in digital format (eSAGE) made for tablet use, adjusted with previously published age and education norms, and determined eSAGE’s association with gold standard clinical assessments. eSAGE is commercially known as BrainTest.

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Moderate Drinking Linked To Faster Cognitive Decline

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Anya Topiwala, BA (Hons) BMBCh (Oxon) MRCPsych DPhil Clinical lecturer Department of Psychiatry University of Oxford

Dr. Topiwala

Dr. Anya Topiwala, BA (Hons) BMBCh (Oxon) MRCPsych DPhil
Clinical lecturer
Department of Psychiatry
University of Oxford

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

Response: I thought the question of whether moderate alcohol consumption is harmful or protective to the brain was a really interesting and important one, particularly because so many people drink this amount. There were a few studies reporting that a little alcohol may protect against dementia or cognitive decline, but the few brain imaging studies were conflicting in their results and had methodological limitations.

We examined whether alcohol consumption over a 30-year period was associated with brain imaging and memory decline in a group of 550 non-alcohol dependent individuals from the remarkable Whitehall II cohort. Subjects completed questionnaires and had clinical examinations approximately every 5 years over the 30 years of the study, and had detailed brain scans at the end.

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Over 50? Exercise Linked To Improved Cognitive Function

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Joseph Michael Northey
UC Research Institute for Sport and Exercise (UCRISE),
Discipline of Sport and Exercise Science, Faculty of Health
University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia

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

Response: Physical exercise has an important role to play in maintaining cognitive function across the lifecycle. However, the benefits of implementing a physical exercise intervention were not clear. To address these issues which prevented evidence-based prescription of exercise for cognitive function, a systematic review of all the available literature up to November of 2016 in adults older than 50 was conducted.

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Concussion History and Cognitive Function in Retired Professional Hockey Players

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Brian Levine, Ph.D., C.Psych, ABPP-cn Senior Scientist, Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Professor, Departments of Psychology and Medicine (Neurology) University of Toro

Dr. Brian Levine

Brian Levine, Ph.D., C.Psych, ABPP-cn
Senior Scientist, Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest
Professor, Departments of Psychology and Medicine (Neurology)
University of Toronto

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

Response: There is growing concern about the effects of concussion on brain function with aging. Retired professional athletes provide a unique perspective on this question, as many of them have a high concussion exposure before retirement in their 20’s or 30’s. Yet much of the research on professional athletes has been in post-mortem samples. There is a need for more research in retired athletes during life.

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Multiple Sclerosis Patients Show Cognitive Benefit From Remotely Supervised Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Leigh E. Charvet, PhD Associate Professor, Department of Neurology Department of Neurology New York University Langone Medical Center New York, NY

Dr. Charvet

Leigh E. Charvet, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Neurology
Department of Neurology
New York University Langone Medical Center
New York, NY

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for transcranial direct current stimulation? What are the main findings of this study in multiple sclerosis patients?

Response: The application of tDCS is a relatively recent therapeutic development that utilizes low amplitude direct currents to induce changes in cortical excitability. When paired with a rehabilitation activity, it may improve learning rates and outcomes.

Multiple repeated sessions are needed for both tDCS and cognitive training sessions to see a benefit. Because it is not feasible to have participants come to clinic daily for treatments, we developed a method to deliver tDCS paired with cognitive training (using computer-based training games) to patients at home. Our protocol uses a telemedicine platform with videoconferencing to assist study participants with all the procedures and to ensure safety and consistency across treatment sessions.

When testing our methods, we enrolled 25 participants with multiple sclerosis (MS) completed 10 sessions of tDCS (2.0 mA x 20 minutes, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, left anodal) using the remotely-supervised telerehabilitation protocol. This group was compared to n=20 MS participants who completed 10 sessions of cognitive training only (also through remote supervision).

We administered cognitive testing measures at baseline and study end. We found that both the tDCS and cognitive training only group had similar and slight improvements on composites of standard neuropsychological measures and basic attention. However, the tDCS group had a significantly greater gain on computer-based measures of complex attention and on a measure of intra-individual variability in response times.

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Prostate Cancer: No Association Between Androgen Deprivation Therapy and Dementia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Farzin Khosrow-Khavar, M.Sc. Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, McGill University
Center for Clinical Epidemiology – Jewish General Hospital
Montreal, QC 

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

Response: Previous studies have shown an association between androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) and risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. However, these studies had methodological limitations that may account for this positive association. Using appropriate study design and methodology, we found no association between androgen deprivation therapy and risk of dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease) in patients with prostate cancer. These results were consistent by cumulative duration of  androgen deprivation therapy use and by ADT modality.

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Hip Fractures Increase Mortality Risk in Cognitively Impaired Men

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ann L. Gruber-Baldini, Ph.D. Professor, Division of Gerontology Director, Program in Epidemiology and Human Genetics  Department of Epidemiology & Public Health University of Maryland School of Medicine

Dr. Ann Gruber-Baldini

Ann L. Gruber-Baldini, Ph.D.
Professor, Division of Gerontology
Director, Program in Epidemiology and Human Genetics
Department of Epidemiology & Public Health
University of Maryland School of Medicine 

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

Response: While men make up only about 25% of all hip fractures, the number of men who fracture their hip is increasing and we know men are more likely to die than women after a hip fracture. It is also known that those with cognitive impairments, typically due to delirium and Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia, are more likely to do more poorly after the fracture. The impact of both sex and cognition on outcomes after hip fracture has not been fully explored.

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Living Near Major Roads Associated With Increased Dementia Risk

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Hong Chen, PhD Scientist, Environmental Health Assessment Public Health Ontario | Santé publique Ontario Assistant Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto Adjunct Scientist, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) Toronto, ON

Dr. Hong Chen

Hong Chen, PhD
Scientist, Environmental Health Assessment
Public Health Ontario | Santé publique Ontario
Assistant Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health
University of Toronto
Adjunct Scientist, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences
Toronto, ON

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

Response: Over the past several decades, there is unequivocal evidence that living close to major roadways may lead to various adverse health outcomes, such as cardio-respiratory related mortality and mortality. In the past decade, concern is growing that exposures associated with traffic such as air pollution and noise may also have an adverse impact on brain health. Several experimental studies show that air pollutants and diesel exhaust induce oxidative stress and neuroinflammation, activate microglia (which act as the first and main form of immune defense in the central nervous system), and stimulate neural antibodies. There are also a small number of epidemiological studies linking traffic-related noise and air pollution to cognitive decline and increased incidence of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Studies also showed that living near roads was associated with reduced white matter hyperintensity volume and cognition, but its effect on the incidence of dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis is unknown. Given hundreds of millions of people worldwide live close to major roads, we conducted this population-based cohort study to investigate the association between residential proximity to major roadways and the incidence of these three neurological diseases in Ontario, Canada.

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Is Depression in Mild Cognitive Impairment a Precursor to Dementia?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Zahinoor Ismail MD FRCPC

Clinical Associate Professor,
Hotchkiss Brain Institute
University of Calgary

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

Response: Depression and depressive symptoms are common in mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Evidence suggests that depression in MCI increases the likelihood of progression from MCI to dementia, compared to non-depressed people with MCI. In the newer construct of mild behavioural impairment (MBI), which describes the relationship between later life onset of sustained and impactful neuropsychiatric symptoms and the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, depression is an important subdomain (in addition to apathy, impulse control, social cognition and psychotic symptoms). Thus, depression and depressive symptoms are a significant risk factor for cognitive, behavioural and functional outcomes in older adults who have at most mild cognitive impairment. As the importance of neuropsychiatric symptoms in older adults emerges, good prevalence estimates are required to inform clinicians and researchers as well as public health policy and decision makers.

We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to determine the best estimate of prevalence of depression in  mild cognitive impairment. We included 57 studies, representing 20,892 participants in the analysis. While we determined that the omnibus prevalence estimate was 32%, there was significant heterogeneity in this sample based on setting. In community samples, the rate was 25%, but in clinical samples this was higher at 40%. Additionally, different case ascertainment methods for depression (self report, clinician administered or caregiver report) and different MCI criteria didn’t change the prevalence estimates.

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Hearing Loss Linked To Increased Depression and Dementia Risk

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr-Frank-Lin.jpg

Dr. Lin

Frank Robert Lin, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Geriatric Medicine, Head and Neck Surgery
Johns Hopkins Medicine

MedicalResearch.com Editor’s note: Dr. Lin discussed his research during Cochlear’s Global Research Symposium, which brought together international experts from the audiology community.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there a link between hearing loss and the risk of developing dementia?

Response: In the last few years, we have investigated the link between hearing loss and dementia in large studies of older adults who have been followed for many years. In these studies, we and others have found that those with greater hearing loss have a higher risk of developing dementia even after we account for factors like age, education, medical comorbidities, etc. We think this is because there are some pathways through which hearing loss can directly affect our thinking and memory abilities

MedicalResearch.com: Is there an association between hearing loss and cognitive decline or premature death?

Response: There is a link between hearing loss and accelerated cognitive decline. There is also external research that links hearing loss and premature death (Friburg 2014, Contrera 2015). Hearing loss can also increase a person’s chance of using medical and social services

MedicalResearch.com: How is hearing loss linked to increased social isolation and depression in the elderly?

Response: Older people with hearing loss are at a greater risk of social isolation due to their difficulty communicating with people. These individuals may be less likely to go out, particularly to settings where listening can be difficult (e.g., restaurants), and even if they do go out, they may feel isolated from the conversation and not able to engage with others.

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

Response: Readers should understand that we’re increasingly understanding that hearing loss can detrimentally impact our thinking and memory abilities, risk of dementia, and our ability to remain engaged with others. Ongoing research is now studying to what extent our current hearing loss therapies can reduce and mitigate these risks and promote healthy aging.

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

Response: Readers should know that hearing loss is a growing public health issue. It has been estimated that by 2050 1.2 billion people will suffer from hearing loss, underscoring the need for us to address it and recognize the burden of hearing loss on wider health. To learn more visit,www.linresearch.org and www.nas.edu/hearing

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

Citation:

Cochlear’s Global Research Symposium October 2016

Disclosure:  Symposium supported by Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH), together with Macquarie University and the Australian Hearing Hub

www.cochlear.com

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

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Use of Marijuana At Young Age Linked To Functional Brain Abnormalities and Lower IQ

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Elizabeth Osuch, M.D. Associate Professor; Rea Chair Department of Psychiatry FEMAP--London Health Sciences Centre London, ON

Dr. Elizabeth Osuch

Elizabeth Osuch, M.D.
Associate Professor; Rea Chair
Department of Psychiatry
FEMAP–London Health Sciences Centre
London, ON   

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

Response: As a researcher and psychiatrist doing clinical work in youth aged 16-25 with mood and anxiety disorders I often see patients who are depressed and believe that using marijuana (MJ) improves their mood.  Yet they remain depressed.  This was the clinical inspiration for this brain imaging study, where we investigated emerging adults with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).  Subject groups included patients with MDD who did and did not use MJ frequently.  Our results showed that the MDD+MJ group did not have significantly less depression than the MDD alone group, and the brain abnormalities found in MDD were not corrected by MJ use in the MDD+MJ group.  In fact, some of the brain differences were worse with the addition of MJ, while others were just different.

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Leukoencephalopathy As Marker of Cognitive Impairment After Chemotherapy For Childhood ALL

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Yin Ting Cheung, PhD

Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Control and
Noah D Sabin, MD
Department of Diagnostic Imaging
St Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Memphis, TN

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

Response: Long-term survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) who are treated with high-dose intravenous methotrexate or intrathecal chemotherapy are at risk for neurocognitive impairment, particularly in cognitive processes such as processing speed, attention and executive function. However, many children who receive these therapies do not experience significant impairments, suggesting the need for biomarkers to identify patients at greatest risk. Prior research from our team demonstrated that, during chemotherapy, patients were at risk for white matter changes in the brain, also known as leukoencephalopathy. No studies documented the persistence or impact of brain leukoencephalopathy in long-term survivors of childhood ALL treated on contemporary chemotherapy-only protocols.

In this study, we included prospective neuroimaging from active therapy to long-term follow-up, and comprehensive assessment of brain structural and functional outcomes in long-term survivors of ALL treated with contemporary risk-adapted chemotherapy. We demonstrated that survivors who developed leukoencephalopathy during therapy displayed more neurobehavioral problems at more than 5 years post-diagnosis. Moreover, these survivors also had reduced white matter integrity at long-term follow-up, and these structural abnormalities were concurrently associated with the neurobehavioral problems.

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Poor Oral Health in Hospitalized Patients Associated With Dementia and Kidney Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Danielle Mairead Maire Ni Chroinin, MB BCh BAO BMedSc MD MRCPI FRACP Staff Specialist in Geriatric Medicine Liverpool Hospital and Senior Conjoint Lecturer UNSW

Dr. Danielle Ni-Chroinin

Danielle Mairead Maire Ni Chroinin,
MB BCh BAO BMedSc MD MRCPI FRACP

Staff Specialist in Geriatric Medicine
Liverpool Hospital and Senior Conjoint Lecturer UNSW

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

Response: Oral disease may have a large impact on older persons’ health and wellbeing, causing pain, impairing speech, adversely affecting nutrition, contributing to systemic infection and harming self-esteem. However, this important issue may be neglected in the acute hospital setting. Our aim was to investigate oral health status and abnormalities in older patients admitted acutely to hospital, exploring the association with medical co-morbidities. We included all individuals aged 70 and older admitted to a geriatric service over 3 months (N=202), and evaluated oral health using a simple bedside tool the Oral Health Assessment Tool (OHAT).

Overall, we found that poor oral health was not uncommon, and was associated with dementia and renal impairment. This association persisted even after adjustment for anticholinergic medication and oral pH, highlighting that patients with these conditions may be particularly vulnerable.

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Could Methylene Blue Improve Memory in Patients With Cognitive Impairment?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Timothy Q. Duong, Ph.D Stanley I. Glickman MD Professor of Ophthalmology, Radiology, and Physiology South Texas Veterans Health Care System, VA Southwest National Primate Research Center University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, Texas

Dr. Timothy Duong

Timothy Q. Duong, Ph.D
Stanley I. Glickman MD Professor of Ophthalmology, Radiology, and Physiology
South Texas Veterans Health Care System, VA Southwest National Primate Research Center
University of Texas Health Science Center
San Antonio, Texas

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

Response: A single oral dose of methylene blue increased fMRI response in the bilateral insular cortex during a task that measured reaction time to a visual stimulus. The fMRI results also showed an increased response during short-term memory tasks involving the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which controls processing of memories. Methylene blue was also associated with a 7 percent increase in correct responses during memory retrieval. The findings suggest that methylene blue can regulate certain brain networks related to sustained attention and short-term memory after a single oral low dose.

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New Drug Class May Prevent Learning Deficits In Infants Exposed To Repeated Anesthesia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Guang Yang, Ph.D. Assistant Professor NYU Langone School of Medicine Alexandria Center for Life Sciences New York, NY 10016

Dr. Guang Yang

Guang Yang, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
NYU Langone School of Medicine
Alexandria Center for Life Sciences
New York, NY 10016

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? How common is the problem of long-lasting behavioral deficits after repeated anesthesia exposure in neonates?

Response: Each year, in the United States alone, more than 1 million children under 4 years of age undergo surgical procedures that require anesthesia. Many lines of evidence from animal studies have shown that prolonged or repeated exposure to general anesthesia during critical stages of brain development leads to long-lasting behavioral deficits later in life. The results from human studies are less clear, although some studies suggest a higher incidence of learning disabilities and attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorders in children repeatedly exposed to procedures requiring general anesthesia. To date, there has been no effective treatment to mitigate the potential neurotoxic effects of general anesthesia.

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Blue Light Exposure Can Have Lasting Effect on Cognitive Function

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Anna Alkozei

Dr. Anna Alkozei

Anna Alkozei, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
SCAN Lab, Psychiatry Department
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85724-5002

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

Dr. Alkozei: We know that exposure to blue wavelength light, which is similar to the kind of light that we get on a bright sunny day, can improve attention and alertness during the day as well as at night. We wanted to extend previous findings by investigating whether blue light exposure can affect cognitive functioning after the blue light exposure period had already ended. We found that thirty minutes of exposure to blue wavelength light during the day, in comparison to an amber light exposure led to subsequently faster reaction times on a cognitive task forty minutes after the light exposure had already ended. Participants who were exposed to blue light also showed more efficient responding, which means they answered more items correctly per second, than individuals who were exposed to amber placebo light. Finally, we also found that individuals who were exposed to blue light showed greater activation within the prefrontal cortex when performing the task, an area necessary for optimal cognitive performance, than individuals who were exposed to amber light.

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Multiple Brain Microbleeds Linked To Cognitive Decline and Risk of Dementia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Meike Vernooij, MD PhD Associate professor Radiology and Epidemiology Neuroradiologist and head & neck radiologist Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Dr. Meike Vernooij

Meike Vernooij, MD PhD
Associate professor
Radiology and Epidemiology
Neuroradiologist and head & neck radiologist
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

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

Dr. Vernooij: Background of this study was the fact that small brain bleeds, so-called cerebral microbleeds, are recognized increasingly as markers on brain scans of disease of the brain’s small vessels. In earlier years, microbleeds were demonstrated to be very frequent in patients with stroke, and also in persons with Alzheimer’s disease. Yet, our previous work indicated that microbleeds are not only common in patients, but are also frequently seen (in up to 1 in 5 individuals over age 45) in presumably healthy persons. Our main research question was therefore whether the presence of microbleeds on brain scans of asymptomatic, stroke-free and dementia-free individuals, was related to risk of cognitive decline and risk of dementia. We studied this in a population of > 4,800 persons whom we followed for nearly 6 years.

Our main findings are that presence of microbleeds, especially when multiple (esp > 4), relates to cognitive decline and risk of dementia, in particular Alzheimer’s disease.

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

Dr. Vernooij:  Our results indicate that microbleeds mark the presence of diffuse vascular and neurodegenerative brain damage.

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

Dr. Vernooij:  Future research should focus on exact mechanisms how microbleeds lead to dementia and cognitive decline, to identify possible preventive pathways.

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

Citation:

Akoudad S, Wolters FJ, Viswanathan A, et al. Association of Cerebral Microbleeds With Cognitive Decline and Dementia. JAMA Neurol. Published online June 06, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2016.1017.

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

More Medical Research Interviews on MedicalResearch.com.

 

Limited Anesthesia in Young Children Not Link To Later Cognitive Impairment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Lena S. Sun, MD E. M. Papper Professor of Pediatric Anesthesiology Professor of Anesthesiology and Pediatrics Executive Vice Chairman, Department of Anesthesiology Chief, Division of Pediatric Anesthesiology Columbia University Medical Center New York, New York 10032

Dr. Lena S. Sun

Lena S. Sun, MD
E. M. Papper Professor of Pediatric Anesthesiology
Professor of Anesthesiology and Pediatrics
Executive Vice Chairman, Department of Anesthesiology
Chief, Division of Pediatric Anesthesiology
Columbia University Medical Center
New York, New York 10032

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

Dr. Sun: The background for the study is as follow: There is robust evidence in both rodent and non-human primate studies that exposure of the developing brain leads to impairment in cognitive function and behavior later in life. The evidence from human studies derives mostly from retrospective studies and the results have been mixed. Some have demonstrated anesthesia in early childhood was associated with impaired neurocognitive function, while others have found no such association. Our study is the first to specifically designed to address the question of effects of general anesthesia exposure on cognitive function, comparing exposure with no exposure.

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Study Addresses Why Blacks Are At Higher Risk of Cognitive Impairment in Later Life

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Zhenmei Zhang, Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Sociology Michigan State University East Lansing, MI48824

Dr. Zhenmei Zhang

Zhenmei Zhang, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Sociology
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI48824

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

Dr. Zhang: Blacks are especially hard hit by cognitive impairment and dementia. Recent estimates of dementia prevalence and incidence were substantially higher for blacks than whites. Reducing racial/ethnic disparities in dementia has been identified as a national priority by the National Alzheimer’s Project Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in 2011. So I really want to contribute to the ongoing discussion of the origins and pathways through which racial disparities in cognitive impairment is produced. If we have a better understanding of the factors contributing to racial disparities in cognitive impairment in later life, more effective interventions can be conducted to reduce the racial disparities.
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Higher Blood Pressure Variability Predicts Faster Cognitive Decline

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Bo (Bonnie) Qin, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Scholar Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey New Brunswick, NJ 08903

Dr. Bo Qin

Bo (Bonnie) Qin, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Scholar
Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
New Brunswick, NJ 08903

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

Dr. Qin: Preventing or delaying the age-related cognitive decline that typically precedes the onset of dementia is particularly important considering that no effective strategies for dementia treatment have been identified. Vascular conditions such as hypertension are thought to be risk factors for cognitive decline, but important gaps in the literature on this topic remain.

Randomized clinical trials of blood pressure-lowering treatments for reducing the risk of cognitive decline or dementia have largely failed to achieve beneficial effects. However, over the past 6 years, scientific evidence has accumulated that blood pressure variability over monthly or yearly visits may lead to greater risk of stroke and small and larger vessel cerebrovascular diseases. They could lead to subsequent changes related to cognitive dysfunction among older adults. We, therefore, hypothesized that blood pressure variability between visits is associated with a faster rate of cognitive function among older adults.

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Elevated Blood Pressure Is Risk Factor For Vascular Dementia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Kazem Rahimi, DM, MSc Oxford Martin School University of Oxford United Kingdom

Dr. Kazem Rahimi

Kazem Rahimi, DM, MSc
Oxford Martin School
University of Oxford
United Kingdom

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

Dr. Rahimi: Vascular dementia is the second most common cause of dementia and is increasing in prevalence worldwide. Vascular dementia often occurs after stroke and can cause apathy, depression, and a decline in cognitive function, and can eventually result in death. High blood pressure (BP) has been identified as a potential risk factor for the development of vascular dementia. However, previous studies, which have been small in size, have reported conflicting results on the relationship between blood pressure and vascular dementia.

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Shift Work Linked To Cognitive Impairment in Middle Aged and Older Adults

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Christian Benedict Ph.D Dept. of Neuroscience Uppsala University, Swedenphotographer: Magnus Bergström

Dr. Christian Benedict

Christian Benedict Ph.D
Dept. of Neuroscience
Uppsala University, Sweden

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

Dr. Benedict: A considerably large proportion of today’s workforce performs shift work. Both epidemiological and experimental studies have demonstrated that shift workers are at an increased risk for multiple diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases. However, knowledge regarding short- and long-term effects of shift work on parameters of brain health is still fragmentary.

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Low Vitamin B12 Associated With Accelerated Brain Aging

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Babak Hooshmand, MD, PhD, MPH Center for Alzheimer Research–Aging Research Center Karolinska Institutet Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden  Department of Neurology, Klinikum Augsburg Augsburg, Germany

Dr. Babak Hooshmand

Babak Hooshmand, MD, PhD, MPH
Center for Alzheimer Research–Aging Research Center
Karolinska Institutet
Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Department of Neurology, Klinikum Augsburg
Augsburg, Germany

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

 Dr. Hooshmand: Low and subnormal levels of vitamin B12 as well as high levels of homocysteine (a vascular risk factor and neurotoxic amino-acid associated with B12 deficiency) are common conditions in the elderly and are associated with a variety of disorders, including cardiovascular and cerebrovascular

conditions. Our study showed that over 6-year of follow-up, both low vitamin B12 status and high homocysteine levels are associated with accelerated brain atrophy in older adults, which precedes clinical dementia.

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Cognitive Impairment Linked to Readmissions For Heart Failure

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Thomas H. Marwick, MBBS, PhD, MPH Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute Melbourne, Australia

Dr. Thomas Marwick

Thomas H. Marwick, MBBS, PhD, MPH
Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute
Melbourne, Australia

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

Dr. Marwick: Readmission for heart failure (HF) remains common and the risk of this remains hard to predict. It’s possible that existing risk scores don’t cover all important patient features. We confirmed that cognitive impairment was an unmeasured contributor and incorporated this measurement in a prediction model. The resulting model was the most reliable reported to date and could be used to identify patients who need the closest follow up to avoid readmission.

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Fewer Teeth Linked To Greater Cognitive Decline

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Elham Emami, DDS, MSc, PhD Professeure agrégée Faculté de médecine dentaire École de santé publique, Département de médecine sociale et préventive Université de Montréal Montréal (Québec) Canada

Dr. Elham Emami

Elham Emami, DDS, MSc, PhD
Director , Oral Health and Rehabilitation Research Unit & Associate Professor
Faculty of Dental Medicine & School of Public Health
Université de Montréal
Adjunct Professor McGill University

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

Dr. Emami: Over the past 20 years, scientific evidence has shown that oral and general health are closely linked. Recently, studies have shown that there is also a link between the number of teeth an older person has and his/her cognitive status.

We carried out a meta-analysis using the data from these latter studies. Our results indicate that, taking into account socioeconomic differences and other potential confounding variables, a person with less than 20 teeth has a 20% greater risk of having cognitive decline (HR= 1.26, 95% CI = 1.14 to 1.40) and dementia (HR = 1.22, 95% CI = 1.04 to 1.43) than someone who has 20 or more teeth.

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Better Cardiovascular Health Associated With Better Cognitive Functioning

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Hannah Gardener, ScD
Department of Neurology, Miller School of Medicine
University of Miami
Miami, FL

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

Response: At the beginning of the study, 1,033 participants in the Northern Manhattan Study (average age 72; 65 percent Hispanic, 19 percent black and 16 percent white), were categorized using the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple Seven®” definition of cardiovascular health, which includes tobacco avoidance, ideal levels of weight, physical activity, healthy diet, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose. The participants were tested for memory, thinking and brain processing speed. Brain processing speed measures how quickly a person is able to perform tasks that require focused attention. Approximately six years later, 722 participants repeated the cognitive testing, which allowed us to measure performance over time. The cardiovascular health factors, which have been shown to predict risk of stroke and myocardial infarction, were then examined in relation to cognitive performance and impairment over time.

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Study of Cognitive Functioning after Surgery Has Reassuring Findings

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Unni Dokkedal, M.P.H. Unit of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Biodemography University of Southern Denmark

Unni Dokkedal

Unni Dokkedal, M.P.H.
Unit of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Biodemography
University of Southern Denmark

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? 

Response: Early (seven days) postoperative cognitive impairment is common in adult surgical patients of all ages, but elderly patients are at higher risk for this complication. Previous studies have shown that these impairments are detectable up to three months after surgery in patients older than 60 years. Furthermore, the condition may persist for longer than six months in some patients with potential long-term implications of the surgery leading to impaired quality of life and increased mortality risk. We wanted to investigate the contribution of surgery, anesthesia, preexisting conditions and other factors on the postoperative cognitive functioning of elderly patients.

MedicalResearch:  What are the main findings?

Response: For a sample of 4,299 middle-aged twins younger than 70 years and 4,204 elderly twins over 70 years, all of whom were residents of Denmark, medical records were reviewed from 1977 and until the accomplishment of cognitive tests in the period from 1995 to 2001. Results from five cognitive tests were compared in twins exposed to surgery, classified as major, minor, hip and knee replacement, or other, with those of a reference group without surgery. A statistically significant lower composite cognitive score was found in twins with at least one major surgery compared with the reference group (mean difference, −0.27; 95% CI, −0.48 to −0.06), which is a negligible effect size. None of the other groups differed from the reference group except the knee and hip replacement group that tended to have higher cognitive scores (mean difference, 0.35; 95% CI, −0.18 to 0.87).To consider genetic and shared environmental confounding and to take preoperative cognition into account, intrapair analyses were performed in same-sexed pairs in whom one had a history of major surgery and the other no surgery. No difference was found in the intra-pair analysis. The results suggest that preoperative cognitive functioning and underlying diseases were more important for cognitive functioning in mid- and late life than surgery and anesthesia.
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Poor Sleep Linked to Cognitive Issues in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Donald A. Wilson, Ph.D. Professor, Departments of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Neuroscience & Physiology NYU Langone Medical Center Senior Research Scientist Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research

Dr. Donald Wilson

Donald A. Wilson, Ph.D.
Professor, Departments of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Neuroscience & Physiology
NYU Langone Medical Center
Senior Research Scientist
Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Wilson: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is characterized by cognitive, emotional and behavioral problems that are life-long.  Generally, it is assumed that the initial trauma of alcohol exposure at a critical time in life is the cause of these problems.  In this study using an animal model of FASD, we find that developmental alcohol causes a life-long disturbance in sleep.  Given that sleep is important for memory and emotion, among other things, this suggests that developmental alcohol can produce a daily insult to the brain, far outlasting that initial exposure.  Each night, the brain is unable to store memories, adjust emotional circuits, remove waste products, in the way that it should, because FASD has disrupted sleep.

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Intellectual Activity May Delay Onset of Alzheimer’s Dementia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Prashanthi Vemuri, PhD Mayo Clinic Rochester, Minnesota

Dr. Prashanthi Vemuri

Prashanthi Vemuri, PhD
Mayo Clinic
Rochester, Minnesota 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Vemuri: Lifetime Intellectual enrichment has been found to delay the symptoms of dementia but the impact on brain changes due to Alzheimer’s disease has been poorly understood. In this study we studied the impact of lifetime intellectual enrichment (education, occupation, and midlife cognitive activities) on the brain changes related to Alzheimer’s disease. We obtained serial imaging on 393 individuals from a population based sample. We found that in majority of the individuals, there were minimal effects of intellectual enrichment on brain changes due to Alzheimer’s disease. However in those with higher genetic risk of Alzheimer’s, lifetime intellectual enrichment had a protective effect on the brain.

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Dementia Incidence Dropping In Those With At Least High School Education

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Claudia L. Satizabal, PhD Instructor in Neurology Boston University School of Medicine The Framingham Heart Study Boston, MA 02118-2526

Dr. Claudia Satizabal

Claudia L. Satizabal, PhD
Instructor in Neurology
Boston University School of Medicine
The Framingham Heart Study
Boston, MA 02118-2526

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

 

Dr. Satizabal: Our societies are expected to face an increasing burden of dementia in the next decades due to increasing life expectancies and the aging of a big proportion of the population, the so called “baby boomers”. However, some studies conducted in high-income countries have suggested a decline in the total number of cases (prevalence) as well as new cases (incidence) of dementia at any given age. Yet the findings of these studies were not seen as definitive, either because results were of borderline significance or because they were based on survey data, and stronger evidence was lacking.

We used information collected since 1975 in the Framingham Heart Study to estimate the trends in dementia incidence. One of the strengths of this study is that investigators have been careful to use the same diagnostic criteria for over the past 30 decades, which allows us to provide more robust evidence of dementia trends over time.

We found that there has been a progressive decline in the incidence of dementia at any given age over the past 30 decades. Compared to the late 1970s, we observed a decline of 22% in the late 1980s, 38% in the 1990s and 44% in the 2000s. This beneficial trend was only seen among persons with at least a high school diploma. We also explored trends in vascular risk factors such as blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, and others; however, these trends did not completely explain the decline in dementia incidence. One interesting finding was that the risk of dementia associated with cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke or atrial fibrillation, decreased dramatically over the course of time from the late 1970s to the 2000s.

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Midlife Weight Loss Linked to Mild Cognitive Impairment

Rosebud O. Roberts, M.B., Ch.B. Mayo Clinic Rochester, Minn.

Dr. Rosebud Roberts

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Rosebud O. Roberts, M.B., Ch.B.
Mayo Clinic
Rochester, Minn. 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Roberts: Decline in weight has been observed 10-20 years prior to onset of dementia. We wanted to study whether this decline also occurs for mild cognitive impairment (an intermediate stage in the progression from normal cognition to dementia).

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Roberts: The main finding was that there was indeed a decline in weight (from the maximum weight in midlife to weight assessed in late life) was associated with a increased risk of mild cognitive impairment.

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Unrecognized Cognitive Impairment in Heart Failure Patients Increases Costs and Readmissions

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Mark W Ketterer PhD, ABPP Health Psychology Henry Ford Hospital Detroit Michigan

Dr. Mark Ketterer

Mark W Ketterer PhD, ABPP
Health Psychology
Henry Ford Hospital
Detroit Michigan

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

Dr. Ketterer:  Reducing wasteful healthcare costs is a high priority For Medicare/Medicaid, Obamacare and all third party payors.  Cognitive impairment (CI) is highly prevalent in patients  with chronic illnesses identified as having high readmission rates by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (1,2,3), such as Congestive Heart Failure (4,5), End Stage Renal Disease (6,7) and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (8-14). CI  is also a known prospective predictor of longer term admissions and deaths (15-18). Poor adherence is a frequent consequence of cognitive impairment (19,20), particularly when the family and/or patient have not yet recognized and intervened for the evolving problem, or the patient is not in a setting (e.g., Nursing Homes) that supervises medication administration

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

Dr. Ketterer:  

  • Aggressive evaluation of heart failure patients for cognitive impairment.
  • Involvement of family in maximizing adherence is better care, and more efficient care.

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

Dr. Ketterer:  A randomly-assigned, controlled clinical trial of this intervention is warranted, needed and should be a high priority in healthcare research.

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

Dr. Ketterer:  As currently constructed, our healthcare system neglects common behavioral causes of waste, misdiagnosis and treatment failure.  Nonrecognition of cognitive impairment in heart failure patients is about 90%.  This can be a catastrophic failure for a given patient, resulting in a preventable death.

Citation:

Cognitive Impairment and Reduced Early Readmissions in Congestive Heart Failure? –

Mark W. Ketterer, PhD; Jennifer Peltzer, PsyD; Usamah Mossallam, MD; Cathy Draus, RN; John Schairer, DO; Bobak Rabbani, MD; Khaled Nour, MD; Gayathri Iyer, MD; Michael Hudson, MD; and James McCord, MD –

American Journal Managed Care Published Online: January 25, 2016

Mark W Ketterer PhD, ABPP (2016). Unrecognized Cognitive Impairment in Heart Failure Patients Increases Costs and Readmissions 

Reading Difficulties May Complicate Identification of Early Alzheimer’s Disease

Brian K. Lebowitz

Dr. Lebowitz

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Brian K. Lebowitz, PhD ABPP-CN
DIRECTOR OF NEUROPSYCHOLOGY TRAINING
Clinical Neuropsychologist
Clinical Assistant Professor, Neurology
Stony Brook University Medical Center

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Lebowitz: As a lifespan neuropsychologist, my clinical work involves evaluating cognitive concerns in both children and adults.  We know that children with learning disorders, such as dyslexia, often demonstrate difficulties on neuropsychological tests that are seemingly unrelated to reading.  For example, children with dyslexia may have difficulty with auditory processing and short-term memory.  We also know that, for many individuals, learning disorders remain present throughout the lifespan.  Despite awareness of the relationship between reading disorder and other areas of cognitive weakness, many clinicians who work with older adults do not routinely ask about academic/neurodevelopmental history.  Further, little research has assessed the potential impact of lifelong learning disorder on later life neuropsychological test performance. Our study attempted to assess whether or not a history of possible reading disorder increased the likelihood that an individual’s performance would fall at a level suggestive of possible Mild Cognitive Impairment MCI), a diagnosis associated with increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease.  Individuals with MCI continue to function normally in everyday life but experience subjective memory problems and identified weaknesses on neuropsychological tests.  Our study found a strong relationship between poor reading ability and low memory test scores on two tests commonly used to evaluate memory complaints in older adults.  Depending on the test, individuals with a suspected reading disorder were two to three-and-one-half times more likely than their peers to score at a level indicative of Mild Cognitive Impairment.

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Obesity in Pre-School Years Linked To Some Cognitive Deficits

Dr Anne Martin PhD Research Associate/Research Fellow Physical Activity for Health Research Centre (PAHRC) Institute for Sport, PE & Health Sciences University of Edinburgh TeleScot Research Group Usher Institute for Population Health Sciences and Informatics Edinburgh

Dr. Martin

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Anne Martin PhD

Research Associate/Research Fellow
Physical Activity for Health Research Centre (PAHRC)
Institute for Sport, PE & Health Sciences
University of Edinburgh
TeleScot Research Group
Usher Institute for Population Health Sciences and Informatics
Edinburgh

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Martin: Impairments in cognitive development during childhood can have detrimental effects on health behaviour, educational attainment, and socio-economic status later in life. Epidemiological evidence indicates an association between childhood obesity and cognition and educational attainment. Knowledge of when obesity related deficits in cognition and attainment emerge, and how large the deficits are at various ages, may be useful to support arguments for school-based obesity prevention initiatives and in translating evidence on this topic into policy aimed at preventing obesity.

In this study we explored whether the adverse association between obesity and cognition emerges in early childhood. Measures of cognitive abilities included visuo-spatial skills, expressive language skills and reasoning skills. Our findings indicated that obesity in the pre-school years may be weakly associated with some poorer cognitive outcomes at age 5 years in boys, independently of socioeconomic status.

Stronger relationships between obesity and cognition or educational attainment may emerge later in childhood. Evidence from an English cohort study suggested an adverse association between obesity in teenage girls and lower academic attainment in Mathmatics, Science and English.

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Physical Activity Important For Brain Health At Any Age

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Tina Hoang MSPH
Staff Research Associate
Northern California Institute for Research and Education,
Veterans Affairs Medical Center
Dr. Kristine Yaffe MD
Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Epidemiology
University of California
San Francisco, CA  94121

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We assessed physical activity and TV watching in young adults over 25 years to see if there was an association with cognitive function in middle age.  Most previous studies have only considered this association in older adults. We found that both low physical activity and high TV watching over time were associated with worse cognitive function.

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Visual Processing Speed Predicts Executive Functioning

Catherine Mewborn, B.A. Neuropsychology and Memory Assessment Laboratory Department of Psychology University of Georgia

Ms. Mewborn

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Catherine Mewborn, B.A.
Neuropsychology and Memory Assessment Laboratory
Department of Psychology
University of Georgia

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Response: Vision and cognitive functioning both tend to decline as individuals age. Processing speed, or the speed at which an individual can process information, is particularly vulnerable to age-related declines. In previous studies, cognition has typically been measured using traditional paper-and-pencil tests; however, these tests can be quite complex and recruit many different abilities. We wanted to use a simpler test to assess processing speed in the hopes of tapping into the more basic abilities that underlie performance on more complex cognitive tasks. For this study, we chose a measure of visual processing speed called critical flicker fusion, or CFF. We tested how well CFF could predict cognition in both younger and older adults.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Response: As expected, younger adults had better visual processing speed than older adults. Interestingly, in both age groups, CFF significantly predicted performance on a test of executive functioning, which assess abilities such as problem-solving and shifting attention between different tasks.

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