Origins of Alzheimer’s Traced to Basal Brain Region in Study That Challenges Current Beliefs

Origins of Alzheimer’s Traced to Basal Brain Region in Study That Challenges Current Beliefs
Alzheimer’s disease starts with neurodegenerative changes in basal brain structures, and spreads to more superficial layers as the disease progresses, new research reports — a finding that challenges the widely held view that the disease originates in the brain’s cortex. The findings, reported in the study, "Basal forebrain degeneration precedes and predicts the cortical spread of Alzheimer's Pathology," which recently appeared in the journal Nature Communications, may allow researchers to develop treatments targeting events earlier in the disease than was previously possible, in attempts to stop it from progressing. Investigations of brains of early Alzheimer’s patients have researchers arguing about the origin of the disease. Early on, neurodegeneration is present in two areas, called the basal forebrain and the entorhinal cortex. But so far, no one has been able to prove if neurons in one of these areas start dying before the other, or if the changes happen simultaneously in both regions. Researchers from Cornell University in New York and the University of Cambridge in the U.K. analyzed brain imaging data from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative database. The database holds information on both cognitively healthy older adults, and those with various degrees of memory problems. One group of participants had diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease, while another had mild cognitive impairment. Of the people with only minor memory problems, some progressed to Alzhe
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