Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Study Finds That MRI Scans Spot Precursors of Dementia

One goal for scientists studying Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia is spotting precursors to those disorders before symptoms appear. In a new study in the journal Neurology, researchers annually scanned the brains of 181 volunteers in the Oregon Brain Aging Study and then followed for about 20 years, when 134 subjects had developed mild cognitive impairment.

An acceleration in the percentage of white matter hyperintensity volume—a marker for cerebrovascular pathology—was observed an average of 10.6 years before mild cognitive impairment was diagnosed. That take-off point may prove significant.

“[White matter hyperintensity] acceleration may directly result in cognitive decline years later, or increase susceptibility to the detrimental effects of underlying Alzheimer pathology,” concluded Lisa Silbert, M.D., and assistant professor of neurology at Oregon Health and Science University, and colleagues. “Tracking longitudinal changes in WMH may be useful in determining those at different levels of risk for cognitive impairment and for planning strategies for introducing disease-modifying therapies prior to dementia onset.”

For more in Psychiatric News about the effects of white matter hyperintensities on dementia in the elderly, click here.

(Image: Monkey Business Images/


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