Early Brain Alterations May Occur Decades Before Onset of First Symptoms, Researchers Say

Early Brain Alterations May Occur Decades Before Onset of First Symptoms, Researchers Say
Scientists have found a series of brain alterations associated with Alzheimer's disease that occur decades before the onset of the first symptoms. Identifying these biological and anatomical brain alterations in people at high-risk for the disease may help them receive earlier therapeutic interventions, the researchers said. The study, "Identifying Changepoints in Biomarkers During the Preclinical Phase of Alzheimer’s Disease," was published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder marked by a continued decline in cognitive abilities. Recent studies have suggested the first signs of the disorder setting in may actually be shown decades before patients experience the first Alzheimer's symptoms. "This has led to an increasing interest in understanding the order and magnitude of biomarker changes during this 'preclinical' phase of AD," the investigators said. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University reviewed the medical records of 290 cognitively normal individuals, ages 40 and older, at high risk of developing Alzheimer's. Approximately 75% had a first-degree relative — a parent or a sibling — with the disease. All data was extracted from the BIOCARD study, a project launched by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1995 with the aim of finding predictors of c
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