Amyloid PET Scan Can Predict Progression to Alzheimer’s in Patients With Mild Cognitive Impairment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

David A. Wolk, MD Associate Professor Department of Neurology Co-Director, Penn Memory Center Associate Director, Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Wolk

David A. Wolk, MD
Associate Professor
Department of Neurology
Co-Director, Penn Memory Center
Associate Director, Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center
University of Pennsylvania

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

Response: Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is a state when individuals have mild memory problems, but not enough to impact day-to-day function.  Many patients with MCI are on the trajectory to developing Alzheimer’s Disease dementia, but about half will not and remain stable.  As such, patients with MCI are often uncertain about the likelihood they should expect to decline in the future which obviously may be associated with considerable anxiety and this may delay opportunities for them to plan for the future or begin therapeutic interventions.

This study examined the degree to which amyloid PET, which detects the amyloid pathology of Alzheimer’s Disease, a measure of shrinkage of the hippocampus with MRI, and cognitive measures predicted development of dementia over 3 years.  We found that each of these measures enhances prediction of whether an individual will or will not develop dementia in the future.  If all of these measures are positive, one has a very high risk of progression whereas if amyloid PET and the MRI measurement are normal, there is very little risk of progression. Continue reading

Personality Changes Can Presage Cognitive Impairment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

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

Dr. Caselli

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

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

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

Chronic Valvular Heart Disease Linked To White Matter Brain Changes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Keun-Hwa Jung MD PhD

Program in Neuroscience, Neuroscience Research Institute of SNUMRC
College of Medicine
Seoul National University
First author: Dr. Woo-Jin Lee MD
Department of Neurology
Seoul National University Hospital
Seoul, South Korea 

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

Response: Cerebral white matter hyperintensity is a prevalent consequence of brain aging process and associated with various complications. One of the main mechanisms underlying the progression of white matter hyperintensity is chronic dysfunction of the glymphatic system which maintains metabolic homeostasis in brain. Glymphatic system is the route where the cerebrospinal fluid enters into the brain parenchyma and is cleared out with soluble wastes to the perivascular space of the cerebral small veins, peri-meningeal lymphatic vessels, deep cervical lymph nodes, and finally to the right atrium.

Although the integrity of the glymphatic system is dependent on the adequate drainage of cerebral veins and lymphatics to the downstream chamber, the right atrium, the impact of hemodynamic changes in right-sided cardiac chambers on the development of white matter hyperintensity have not been elucidated.

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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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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

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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Older Adults with Dementia Face Potentially Unsafe Living Conditions

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Halima Amjad, MD, MPH Post-doctoral Fellow Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology

Dr. Halima Amjad

Halima Amjad, MD, MPH
Post-doctoral Fellow
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology

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

Dr. Amjad: Safety is an important aspect of dementia care. Dementia is underdiagnosed, however, and there is limited understanding of safety issues in people with undiagnosed dementia. We wanted to better understand potentially unsafe activities and living conditions in all older adults with dementia and specifically examine these activities in undiagnosed dementia. We found that in all study participants with probable dementia, the prevalence of driving, cooking, managing finances, managing medications, or going to physician visits alone was over 20%. The prevalence was higher in older adults with probable dementia without a diagnosis, and even after accounting for sociodemographic, medical, and physical impairment factors, the odds of engaging in these activities was over 2.0 in undiagnosed versus diagnosed probable dementia. Potentially unsafe living conditions including unmet needs and performance on cognitive tests were similar between these groups.

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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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ChemoBrain Linked to Decreased Dopamine Release

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Michael A. Johnson Ph.D Associate Professor Department of Chemistry University of Kansas

Dr. Michael Johnson

Michael A. Johnson Ph.D
Associate Professor
Department of Chemistry
University of Kansas

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

Dr. Johnson: We undertook these studies because chemotherapy induced cognitive dysfunction, also known as ‘chemobrain’, has become a major health issue in recent years. For example, up to a third of patients who have undergone chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer have reported symptoms of chemobrain. These symptoms may include loss of verbal and visual memory as well as decreased mental flexibility and difficulty focusing.

For this study, we wanted to understand how treatment with chemotherapeutic agents affects the ability of neurons to communicate. An impairment of neurotransmitter release would imply that communication is hindered. This inability to communicate normally could contribute to cognitive dysfunction.
We initially measured the release of dopamine in a region of the brain called the striatum. Our measurement of dopamine in this region was motivated by two key issues: its importance in cognitive function and our ability to measure it with high temporal resolution. From a cognitive standpoint, dopamine is important because the striatum helps translate signals, received from the cortex, into plans by forwarding wanted signals to other parts of the brain and suppressing unwanted signals. Fortunately, we can easily measure dopamine release using an electrochemical technique called fast-scan cyclic voltammetry. This method allows us to not only measure how much dopamine is released from a living brain slice, but also it affords us the capability to measure how quickly dopamine is taken back up. We also measured serotonin release using this method.

Our main finding was that the ability of neurons to release dopamine was impaired after carboplatin treatment. We also found that serotonin release was similarly impaired. These release impairments corresponded to a decrease in cognitive ability of the treated rats.

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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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