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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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.

More Medical Research Interviews on MedicalResearch.com

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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