Scientists can find signs of Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms appear

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In a recent study published in Neuropsychopharmacology, researchers found healthy people with a higher genetic risk of Alzheimer’s disease may show differences in brain structure and in cognitive test scores relating to reasoning and attention.

The finding suggests that, although the association between these differences in people with a higher genetic risk of Alzheimer’s disease was small, the link suggests signs of the devastating disease may be detectable before significant symptoms are obvious.

The study is from the University of Glasgow. One author is Rachana Tank.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease in which several brain regions are affected, but among the earliest includes the hippocampus, which is vital for processing memory and learning.

Genetic factors are known to play a role in developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) dementia, and researchers can use polygenic risk scoring—a method used to estimate an individual’s genetic risk of developing a particular disease, such as AD.

In this study, the researchers calculated a genetic risk score based on a large number of mutations for 32,790 generally healthy adults without dementia from the UK Biobank.

They aimed to see if their lifetime genetic risk of AD was associated with average differences in brain structure and cognitive performance.

They found the effects of genetic risk may, to a certain extent, be apparent long before a clinical dementia diagnosis.

Researchers say the findings could lead to a better, more meaningfully informative way of gauging Alzheimer’s disease risk than current methods of inquiring about a family history of dementia.

Being able to identify individuals at risk of worse cognitive abilities and potentially accelerated decline could greatly improve diagnosis and treatment options in the future.

If you care about Alzheimer’s risk, please read studies about small changes in movement that may predict Alzheimer’s disease, and findings that deaths from Alzheimer’s far more common in these places in U.S.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about two common habits can make your brain age fast, and results showing that COVID-related brain damage more likely in these people.

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