Biggest ever map of human Alzheimer’s brain published

Alzheimer’s Research UK | February 2019| Biggest ever map of human Alzheimer’s brain published

A study of the differences between healthy brains and those with Alzheimer’s Disease has produced largest dataset of its type ever.

The team included researchers from the Universities of Manchester, Bristol, Liverpool and Auckland. The dataset is now freely available online for any scientist to use.

The research team also show that one region of the brain previously thought to be unaffected by the disease, the cerebellum, displayed a series of changes which they think might protect it from damage caused by Alzheimer’s.

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The development is an important advance for scientists researching Alzheimer’s. Their analysis, mapped the relative levels of over 5,825 distinct proteins across six regions of the brain, generated a massive 24,024 data points.

The brain regions in the study included the more heavily affected Hippocampus, Entorhinal cortex, Cingulate gyrus and the less affected Motor Cortex, Sensory Cortex, and Cerebellum.

Full details from Alzheimer’s Research UK

See also: University of Manchester Biggest ever map of human Alzheimer’s brain published

Half of UK adults can’t identify single key risk factor for dementia

Alzheimer’s Research UK | February 2019 | Half of UK adults can’t identify single key risk factor for dementia

Alzheimer’s Research UK, the the UK’s leading dementia research charity, has published its findings  from one of the most comprehensive surveys of UK-wide public perceptions of dementia. They have been published today (6 February) by Alzheimer’s Research UK. The Dementia Attitudes Monitor, which will be repeated biennially, includes data from 2,361 interviews conducted by Ipsos MORI between 15 June and 5 July 2018.

The charity’s findings highlight enduring misconceptions around the physical nature of the diseases that cause dementia as well as low understanding of the risk factors for dementia, which is now the leading cause of death in the UK.

Dementia attitudes
Image source: dementiastatistics.org

 

The Monitor reveals that just 1% of UK adults are able to name seven known risk or protective factors for the dementia (risk factors: heavy drinking, genetics, smoking, high blood pressure, depression and diabetes, protective factor: physical exercise) and 48% fail to identify any. With a third of cases of dementia thought to be influenced by factors in our control to change, the findings highlight a clear need for education around dementia prevention.

Key findings include:

  • More than half of UK adults (52%) now say they know someone with dementia.
  • Only half (51%) recognise that dementia is a cause of death* and more than 1 in 5 (22%) incorrectly believes it’s an inevitable part of getting older.
  • Only 34% of people believe it’s possible to reduce the risk of dementia, compared with 77% for heart disease and 81% for diabetes.
  • Three-quarters (73%) of adults would want to be given information in midlife about their personal risk of developing dementia later in life, if doctors could do so.

*Base: Adults 15+ in UK without a dementia diagnosis (2,354) (Source: Alzheimer’s Research UK)

Read the full news release at Alzheimer’s Research UK

Alzheimer’s Research UK Half of UK adults can’t identify single key risk factor for dementia

Read the full report here

See also:

Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Research Hub  Public attitudes towards dementia

In the news:

BBC News Dementia risk factors not known by half the population

Neck scan could identify early symptoms of dementia in 5 minutes

British Heart Foundation | November 2018 | Neck scan predicts cognitive decline decade in advance

A research team lead by University College London (UCL) Professor John Deanfield, followed over 3000 participants over a fifteen-year period (3,191) middle-aged volunteers, who were given ultrasound in 2002 to measure the intensity of the pulse travelling towards their brain. Over the next 15 years, researchers monitored the participants memory and problem-solving ability.

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According to the research a five minute scan of blood vessels in the neck during mid-life predicts cognitive decline a decade before symptoms appear, according to new research  co-funded by The British Heart Foundation. The findings were presented recently at the American Heart Association’s AHA Scientific Sessions conference in Chicago.

The study’s findings would need confirming in larger stuides, but the scan could potentially be used n future to help doctors identify patients who might be at high risk of developing dementia earlier than  previously possible. 

Those participants with the highest intensity pulse (top quarter) at the outset of the study were  approximately 50 per cent  more likely to exhibit accelerated cognitive decline during the next ten years when compared to the rest of the participant cohort. The researchers controlled factors which might also contribute to cognitive decline, like age, BMI, blood pressure and diabetes.

One of the researchers, Dr Scott Chiesa from UCL commented on their findings:

“These findings demonstrate the first direct link between the intensity of the pulse transmitted towards the brain with every heartbeat and future impairments in cognitive function.”

“It’s therefore an easily measurable and potentially treatable cause of cognitive decline in middle aged adults which can be spotted well in advance.” (Source: British Heart Foundation)

Full press release available from BHF 

In the media:

BBC News Dementia risk: Five-minute scan ‘can predict cognitive decline’

Evening Standard Dementia Screening: ‘Five minute neck scan could spot early signs’ say researchers 

 

 

Alzheimer’s Society to fund Exeter research into brain inflammation

University of Exeter | November 2018 | Alzheimer’s Society to fund Exeter research into brain inflammation

The Alzheimer’s Society is funding research at the University of Exeter as  part of a three-year project which will investigate the role that infections have in driving inflammation in the brain of someone with Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers have received a £361,000 grant to enable their research in this area. 

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Professor Katie Lunnon, Associate Professor of Epigenetics at the University of Exeter Medical School said: “Systemic infections, like pneumonia or a urinary tract infection, are associated with the onset of dementia, a faster rate of cognitive decline, and the increased risk of death in those living with dementia. Understanding the role of inflammation in Alzheimer’s disease is of utmost importance if we are to treat the disease more effectively.” (Source: University of Exeter)

The full story is available from University of Exeter

One in two women and one in three men will develop neurological disease

OnMedica | October 2018 | One in two women and one in three men will develop neurological disease

A research team from the Netherlands studied  lifetime risk of dementia, stroke and parkinsonism, in over 12,102 individuals (just over half of them women) who at baseline were aged at least 45 years (median 62.2 years), and free from these diseases, for 26 years,  between the years 1990 and 2016 in a  prospective population- based study.

Within this period over 1400 individuals were diagnosed with dementia, 1,285 with stroke and more than 250 with parkinsonism; and of these 438 people (14.6%) were diagnosed with multiple diseases. The researchers found that women were almost twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with both stroke and dementia during their lifetime. Females over 45 years of age had a significantly higher lifetime risk of developing dementia and stroke than men (31.4% compared with 18.6% in men; and 21.6% compared with 19.3% in men, respectively); whereas lifetime risk of parkinsonism (4.3% in women and 4.9% in men) was not significantly different. They also saw similar patterns in sex-specific occurrence for Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, ischaemic, haemorrhagic and unspecified stroke and Parkinson’s disease (Source: OnMedica)

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Read the full news story from OnMedica One in two women and one in three men will develop neurological disease

Abstract

Objective To quantify the burden of common neurological disease in older adults in terms of lifetime risks, including their co-occurrence and preventive potential, within a competing risk framework.

Methods Within the prospective population-based Rotterdam Study, we studied lifetime risk of dementia, stroke and parkinsonism between 1990 and 2016. Among 12 102 individuals (57.7% women) aged more than or equal to 45 years free from these diseases at baseline, we studied co-occurrence, and quantified the combined, and disease-specific remaining lifetime risk of these diseases at various ages for men and women separately. We also projected effects on lifetime risk of hypothetical preventive strategies that delay disease onset by 1, 2 and 3 years, respectively.

Results During follow-up of up to 26 years (156 088 person-years of follow-up), 1489 individuals were diagnosed with dementia, 1285 with stroke and 263 with parkinsonism. Of these individuals, 438 (14.6%) were diagnosed with multiple diseases. Women were almost twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with both stroke and dementia during their lifetime. The lifetime risk for any of these diseases at age 45 was 48.2%  in women and 36.2% in men. This difference was driven by a higher risk of dementia as the first manifesting disease in women than in men, while this was similar for stroke  and parkinsonism. Preventive strategies that delay disease onset with 1 to 3 years could theoretically reduce lifetime risk for developing any of these diseases by 20%–50%.

Conclusion One in two women and one in three men will develop dementia, stroke or parkinsonism during their life. These findings strengthen the call for prioritising the focus on preventive interventions at population level which could substantially reduce the burden of common neurological diseases in the ageing population.

The full article is available to read at BMJ Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 

Full reference: Licher SDarweesh SKLWolters FJ, et al. | 2018| 
Lifetime risk of common neurological diseases in the elderly population
See also:

World Alzheimer’s Day

Today, 21 September 2018, is World Alzheimer’s Day. Coinciding with this, Alzheimer’s Disease International have released  the World Alzheimer Report 2018: The State of the art of dementia research: New frontiers. 

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Image source: http://www.alz.co.uk/

This report is written to be of appeal to a broad audience including governments and policymakers, academics and researchers and the general public with an interest in dementia.

Essentially the report is an overview of where we are currently: the hopes and frustrations, the barriers, the enablers and the ground-breaking work being undertaken.

 

The report’s key calls-to-action:

  • Improving the sharing, using and disseminating of data and using registries in the best possible way.
  • A minimum 1% of the societal cost of dementia to be devoted to funding research in: basic science, care improvements, prevention and risk reduction, drug development and public health.
  • Attracting researchers and skill to the sector
  • Increasing the scale of new research with the global ratio of publications on neurodegenerative disorders versus cancer at just 1:12
  • Involvement of people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in the research process.
  • Encouraging innovation, the use of technology and entrepreneurship.

Full report: World Alzheimer Report 2018

To support the 2018 World Alzheimer’s Month campaign, Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) in partnership with ITN Productions have released the documentary film below  ‘Every 3 seconds’ to help raise awareness of global impact of dementia:

 

Are noise and air pollution related to the incidence of dementia? A cohort study in London

Carey IMAnderson HRAtkinson RW, et al| 2018 | Are noise and air pollution related to the incidence of dementia? A cohort study in London, England |

A new article published  in the BMJ Open investigated an association between dementia and air and noise pollution in London. The cohort study included 75  Greater London Practices and involved patients with no recorded history of dementia. 

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Abstract

Objective To investigate whether the incidence of dementia is related to residential levels of air and noise pollution in London.

Design Retrospective cohort study using primary care data.

Setting 75 Greater London practices.

Participants 130 978 adults aged 50–79 years registered with their general practices on 1 January 2005, with no recorded history of dementia or care home residence.

Primary and secondary outcome measures A first recorded diagnosis of dementia and, where specified, subgroups of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia during 2005–2013. The average annual concentrations during 2004 of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulate matter with a median aerodynamic diameter less than or equal to2.5 µm (PM2.5) and ozone (O3) were estimated at 20×20 m resolution from dispersion models. Traffic intensity, distance from major road and night-time noise levels (Lnight) were estimated at the postcode level. All exposure measures were linked anonymously to clinical data via residential postcode. HRs from Cox models were adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, smoking and body mass index, with further adjustments explored for area deprivation and comorbidity.

Results 2181 subjects (1.7%) received an incident diagnosis of dementia (39% mentioning Alzheimer’s disease, 29% vascular dementia). There was a positive exposure response relationship between dementia and all measures of air pollution except O3, which was not readily explained by further adjustment. Adults living in areas with the highest fifth of NO2 concentration  versus the lowest fifth  were at a higher risk of dementia. Increases in dementia risk were also observed with PM2.5, PM2.5 specifically from primary traffic sources only and Lnight, but only NO2 and PM2.5 remained statistically significant in multipollutant models. Associations were more consistent for Alzheimer’s disease than vascular dementia.

Conclusions We have found evidence of a positive association between residential levels of air pollution across London and being diagnosed with dementia, which is unexplained by known confounding factors.

Read the full article at BMJ Open 

Related:

OnMedica Air pollution may be linked to heightened dementia risk