New insight into brain connection breakdown in Alzheimer's

2 December 2014

A new study has revealed a potential biomarker for the initial stages of Alzheimer's disease, which could help identify the condition during the early stages when treatment is most effective.

Presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), the study found that an MRI scan is able to pick up changes in brain connections, which could be an early sign of Alzheimer's disease.

The researchers used the brain's structural connectome, which details how signals are carried from one area of the brain to the other, to form the basis of their study. 

Dr Jeffrey Prescott, study co-author and radiology resident at Duke University Medical Center, analysed the results from 102 patients enrolled in a national study called the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) 2.

Each participant had undergone diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to determine the integrity of the brain connections by measuring how easy it is for water to move along them.

The team found a strong association between florbetapir uptake and decreases in strength of the structural connections in each of the five areas of the brain studied.

Dr Prescott said the study "ties together two of the major changes in the Alzheimer's brain" - structural tissue changes and pathological amyloid plaque deposition.

Posted by Jeanette Royston​


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