Alzheimer's symptoms can be predicted from the sites where plaques accumulate in the brain

Alzheimer's is a neurodegenerative disease that most often develops with age. Its symptoms - impaired thinking, memory - are related to the accumulation of toxic proteins from beta-amyloid and tau in the brain. Scientists at Northwestern University (Illinois, USA) have developed an innovative method to determine areas of maximum plaque concentration in the human brain. 

Previously, the nature of amyloid accumulation in the brain could be studied only after the death of a patient with Alzheimer's disease. The new Amyloid PET Imaging technology makes it possible to check this process in real time in a living person. The method can be used not only in the late stages of the disease, but also in its initial stages. It not only helps in early diagnosis, but also makes it possible to make a prediction of the prevailing symptoms: their nature depends on which parts of the brain predominantly accumulate toxic proteins. 

Another advantage of this method is the timely diagnosis of a disease called primary progressive aphasia. Like Alzheimer's, the disease begins to progress after 60 years and is caused by the accumulation of beta-amyloid in the brain. However, the main symptom of primary progressive aphasia is a loss of ability to express oneself: the patient gradually loses the ability to write and speak, and then to understand words. 

Thanks to Amyloid PET Imaging technology, scientists have found that in Alzheimer's disease plaques affect both right and left side of the brain equally, and the areas where they accumulate determine the nature of symptoms. At the same time, in primary progressive aphasia, the maximum concentration of plaques is observed in the parietal area of the left hemisphere, the area responsible for speech. With this information, doctors will be able to decide at an early stage on the right therapeutic strategy and prevent the development of disorder.

April 30, 2020, 9:26 a.m.

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