February 3, 2012

Protein Linked to Alzheimer’s May Affect Healthy Adults

(Ivanhoe Newswire)-- A recent study showed that the protein beta-amyloid which is found in the brain and associated with Alzheimer's disease may even affect the mental function in healthy individuals.

"In our study, we observed that even in adults with apparently good cognitive health, increasing amounts of beta-amyloid in the brain are related to subtle changes in memory and mental function," Denise C. Park, PhD, study author, of the Center for Vital Longevity at the University of Texas at Dallas, was quoted as saying.
The study consisted of 137 individuals between the ages of 30 and 89 who were well educated and free of dementia. The participants underwent brain scans and were tested for the APOE gene which had been associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease.

The study showed that the amount of beta-amyloid in people's brains increased with age and approximately 20 percent of adults age 60 and older had much higher percentages of beta-amyloid. Increased amounts of beta-amyloid found on brain scans were linked with lower test scores associated with working memory reasoning and speed of processing information.

The group with higher levels of beta-amyloid showed that 38 percent of individuals had the Alzheimer's risk allele of the APOE gene compared to 15 percent of those who did not have higher levels of beta-amyloid.
"A key question for future research is whether some adults with high levels of beta-amyloid will maintain good mental function for a long period of time and whether higher beta-amyloid deposits in healthy adults always predetermines cognitive decline,"  Park said.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, February 1, 2012