New Test Directly Measures Loss of Synapses in Alzheimer’s Patients

New Test Directly Measures Loss of Synapses in Alzheimer’s Patients
Researchers from Yale University have developed a new test that measures changes in synapses, which is   the structure that allows neurons to communicate with other neurons or cells through electrical/chemical signals. The technique uses positron emission tomography (PET) imaging technology to measure the activity of a specific protein linked to synapses. Synaptic loss is an established indicator of cognitive decline. The study was a collaborative project between researchers at the Yale PET Center and the Yale Alzheimer’s Disease Research Unit (ADRU). The results from the study, "Assessing Synaptic Density in Alzheimer Disease With Synaptic Vesicle Glycoprotein 2A Positron Emission Tomographic Imaging," were published recently in the journal JAMA Neurology. Alzheimer's disease often is viewed as a progressive disease that starts preclinical, moves to mild cognitive impairment, and finally to Alzheimer's dementia. As the disease progresses, specific molecular characteristics also become apparent. These molecular features include the development of β-amyloid plaques, neurofibrillary tangles, and loss of synapses. Synapses are critical for cognitive function and memory. Although Alzheimer's affects 5.7 million Americans — with numbers expected to increase dramatically over the next 30 years — much of the research on the disease relies on autopsie
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