June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, so we have compiled some of our articles regarding Alzheimer’s, brain health, and related topics on schizophrenia, insulin resistance, rosacea, gum disease, and dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease and brain health is a pressing issue in the world today as the population continues to age. More and more seniors are developing Alzheimer’s and dementia, so research is underway to explore the mechanisms behind these cognitive disorders.
We hope our editorials will raise your awareness on the issues regarding the brain and Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia raise brain network vulnerability, while gene therapy shows potential for treatment. Researchers from Oxford University have found a network of brain regions that seems to have higher vulnerability to unhealthy aging and a higher susceptibility to disorders that emerge in younger individuals, like schizophrenia.
This network in the brains of healthy individuals is the last to develop and the first to show signs of neurodegeneration. To conduct their study, the researchers utilized MRI scans on 484 individuals aged eight to 84. The researchers analyzed the brain images to see which patterns emerged instead of looking for a particular pattern.
The researchers uncovered one network – located in the grey matter of the brain – that developed later than the rest of the brain and yet was the first to degenerate in old age.
It is known that grey matter declines over time, but the study revealed this one particular area has greater vulnerability than others.
The brain network in question is responsible for information that comes from the senses, but doesn’t fully develop until adolescence or early adulthood. It is associated with intellectual ability and long-term memory. This area also becomes significantly impaired in schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The brain scans of the healthy individuals were compared to those with Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. The researchers found striking similarities between the brain scans of three groups and suggest that this specific brain network plays a role in both schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Professor Hugh Perry said, “Early doctors called schizophrenia “premature dementia,” but until now we had no clear evidence that the same parts of the brain might be associated with two such different diseases. This large-scale and detailed study provides an important, and previously missing, link between development, aging, and disease processes in the brain. It raises important issues about possible genetic and environmental factors that may occur in early life and then have lifelong consequences. The more we can find out about these very difficult disorders, the closer we will come to helping sufferers and their families.” Continue reading…
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that impairs cognitive function and steals the memories of the individual. The latest research suggests those with elevated blood sugar are at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The research comes from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Researchers tested the memory of 150 adults over the age of 61 who showed no signs of memory impairment. Tests for insulin resistance and brain scans were also conducted.
The findings uncovered that 40 percent of participants had a relative with Alzheimer’s disease, 40 percent had a gene mutation that increased their risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and nearly five percent had type 2 diabetes.
The findings revealed insulin resistance was linked to poor processing of sugar in the brain. Immediate memory was reduced due to lower sugar metabolism. Insulin is required by the brain to carry out signals between cells.
Researchers recommend that the best way to prevent type 2 diabetes and protect your brain is through healthy lifestyle habits. Continue reading…
Rosacea, a skin condition characterized by redness of the face, may increase a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Lead author Dr. Alexander Egeberg said, “It is important for patients to remember that having rosacea does not guarantee that they will develop Alzheimer’s disease.”
“In fact, while the risk in rosacea patients may be slightly increased compared with the general population, the absolute risk [to any one patient] is still quite low,” Egeberg explained.
Nearly 16 million Americans have rosacea. There are various treatments to help manage the condition, but as of now there is no cure.
The researchers looked at data from the Danish national health registry system and found nearly 82,000 individuals with rosacea. Continue reading…
Alzheimer’s disease patients with gum disease (periodontitis) show higher rates of cognitive decline. The researchers from University of Southampton and King’s College London found that periodontitis is common among older people and can become more common among those with Alzheimer’s disease due to lagging oral hygiene as patients become forgetful to take care of their oral health. Higher levels of antibodies to periodontal bacteria increase inflammation throughout the body, raising the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The study included 59 participants with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Their blood samples were assessed to measure inflammatory markers. Dental health was also examined, and 52 participants went for a follow-up six months later.
The presence of periodontitis at baseline was associated with a sixfold increase in the rate of cognitive decline over the six-month follow-up period. This led the authors to conclude that gum disease is associated with greater cognitive decline, possibly linked to inflammatory response.
Senior author Clive Holmes said, “These are very interesting results which build on previous work we have done that shows that chronic inflammatory conditions have a detrimental effect on disease progression in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Our study was small and lasted for six months so further trials need to be carried out to develop these results. However, if there is a direct relationship between periodontitis and cognitive decline, as this current study suggests, then treatment of gum disease might be a possible treatment option for Alzheimer’s.” Continue reading…
Study author Robert Wilson looked at 1,764 people with an average age of 77 who were a part of the Religious Orders Study (where more than 1,100 older nuns, priests, and brothers have agreed to medical and psychological evaluation each year and brain donation after death) and the Rush Memory and Aging Project (the ongoing study of seniors to better understand the memory, mobility, and strength challenges that often come with aging).
All of the participants were free of any memory or thinking problems at the time. Every year, for an average of 7.8 years, they were examined for signs of depression, such as reduced appetite and loneliness. They also participated in tests gauging their memory and overall cognitive skills.
During the course of the study, 680 people died. Autopsies were performed on 582 bodies in order to pinpoint brain plaques or tangles associated with dementia, or other types of brain damage.
So what did researchers discover? They found that 315 (or 18 percent) of participants experienced dementia during the study, while 922 (or 52 percent) of them developed mild cognitive impairment (MCI). This type of cognitive impairment is a common precursor to Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia. Continue reading…