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General Health : Drug News Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

MRI technique advanced for diagnosis of Alzheimer’s
By Ben Wasserman
Jul 28, 2008 - 8:02:38 AM

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MONDAY JULY 28, 2008 ( -- New tools based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be enlisted to diagnose Alzheimer's disease in its early stages so that doctors can treat patients earlier to slow the progression of the disease.

Research represented Sunday at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Chicago showed that conventional, clinical-strength MRI could result in images of brain plaques like those found in Alzheimer's patients.

Methods being used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease are largely cognitive and behavioral tests and imaging scans like MRI and pet scans may be helpful, but a definitive diagnosis of the disease can only be made after a patient dies.

With new techniques, doctors may see amyloid plaques in the brain of a living patient using MRI. And this would improve diagnosis of Alzheimer's in its early stages.

Alzheimer’s disease, an incurable aging-related disease, is estimated to affect about 5.2 million Americans. The number is expected to rise to 16 million by 2050.

One study by John Ronald and colleagues at Roberts Research Institute and the University of Western Ontario showed MRI scanners customized for micro-imaging were able to identify brain plaques in animals, visualizing amyloid plaques with a conventional MRI.

Reported at the conference were also studies of MRI in other areas.

Christos Davatzikos, a professor in Penn's department of radiology and others from the University of Pennsylvania and the National Institute on Aging used a new computer technique to analyze MRI scans from normal elderly and adults with their cognition mildly impaired.

Another study by Robyn Honea at the University of Kansas Medical Center showed MRI brain imaging may show a connection between cardiorespiratory fitness and Alzheimer's related change in one of the first brain regions affected by the disease.   The study found more physically fit people had less brain atrophy.

The following are some studies reported at regarding diet/lifestyle and Alzheimer’s disease.

Green tea may fight Alzheimer's

An antioxidant found in green tea known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)   appears to help prevent the development of amyloid fibrils, which are associated with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, according to a new German study in the May 30, 2008 online edition of Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.


The study led by Erich Wanker, from the Max Delbrueck Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin and colleagues showed "the polyphenol (-)-epigallocatechin gallate efficiently inhibits the fibrillogenesis of both alpha-synuclein and amyloid-beta by directly binding to the natively unfolded polypeptides and preventing their conversion into toxic, on-pathway aggregation intermediates."

EGCG could be used to eliminate the toxic misfolded proteins in cells and prevent the formation of amyloid plaque if patients are treated.   But it is unknown whether the treatment could reverse the existing plaques.

An early study published in the April 7, 2008 issue of Brain Research showed "Green tea epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) reduces beta-amyloid mediated cognitive impairment and modulates tau pathology in Alzheimer transgenic mice."

Previous studies by other researchers suggest EGCG may be used to prevent certain cancers and metabolic syndrome in addition to a range of other health benefits.


Curry prevents Alzheimer's disease

The chemical known as Bisdemethoxycurcumin in curry, which is made of Turmeric root, may help fight Alzheimer's disease,according to a study conducted by the David Geffen School of Medicine in Los Angeles and the Human BioMolecular Research Institute in San Diego and published July 16, 2007 in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers found Bisdemethoxycurcumin boosted immune cells called macrophages to clear amyloid beta, a protein found in the brain plagues causing Alzheimer's.   Previous observational studies have found people who use curry often such as Indians have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's.  


Overweight, obesity may cause Alzheimer's disease

Overweight or obese people may have a greater likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD) compared with those who have a normal body weight, according to a study appearing in the Dec. 2005 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's disease.

In the new study, researchers at the Farber Institute for Neurosciences at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and Edith Cowan University in Joondalup, Western Australia found that being extremely overweight or obese can be associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease.

In the study, which involved 18 extremely obese (but otherwise healthy people), researchers measured body mass index (BMI) and beta-amyloid blood levels. They found a "statistically significant correlation" between BMI and beta-amyloid.

The finding suggests that maintaining a normal body weight may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer's. However, it has not been proven that losing body weight can lower the beta-amyloid level or the risk of the disease.

Previous studies have demonstrated being overweight or obese is a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.


Calorie restriction may prevent Alzheimer's

Calorie restriction boost longevity and may help prevent aging-related Alzheimer's disease by triggering activity in the brain associated with longevity, according to a study, which appears in the July 2006 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

The study by Mount Sinai School of Medicine showed calorie restriction based on low carbohydrate food can reduce beta-amyloid peptides in the brain of the lab mice. Conversely, a high caloric intake based on saturated fat was found to increase levels of the peptides that are linked with Alzheimer's.


Grape seed extract may help prevent Alzheimer's             

SUNDAY June 29, 2008 ( -- A study conducted by Wang J and colleagues from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York suggests that taking grape seed extract supplements may help prevent or even treat Alzheimer's disease.

The study published on June 18 in the Journal of Neuroscience showed that grape see polyphenolic extract significantly inhibits amyloid beta-protein aggregation into high molecular weight oligomers in vitro.

The study also showed that when orally administered to lab mice, the extract dramatically attenuates cognitive deterioration commonly experienced by Alzheimer's patients.

Extracellular accumulation of soluble high-molecular-weight oligomers has been proposed to be responsible for Alzheimer's dementia and memory deficits in mice with a disorder similar to human Alzheimer’s disease.


Red wine compound reduces Alzheimer's disease-causing peptides

Resveratrol, which is found in red grapes and red wine, may help fight Alzheimer's disease, and possibly other amyloid-related diseases, according to a study published in the Nov. 11, 2005 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

For the study, Philippe Marambaud and his colleagues at the Litwin-Zucker Research Center for the Study of Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders in Manhasset, New York, administered resveratrol to cells which produce human amyloid-beta, and monitored amyloid-beta levels inside and outside the cells to assess the effectiveness of resveratrol on amyloid-beta peptides. They found that the treated cells had significantly lower amounts of amyloid-bata than the untreated cells.

Other researchers, in past studies have suggested that resveratrol may act as an antioxidant to help rid free radicals provoked by amyloid-beta peptides in the brain, in order to help Alzheimer's patients. Free radicals generated from fatty acids are believed to cause Alzheimer's.


Mediterranean diet lowers Alzheimer's risk in American cohort

A study published in the April, 2006 issue of Annals of Neurology found Americans who ate a Mediterranean diet--lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals, some fish and alcohol, and little dairy and meat--had a reduced risk for Alzheimer's disease as they aged.

Nikolaos Scarmeas of Columbia University Medical Center followed 2,258 non-demented people in New York City who had no dementia when entering the study. The subjects were examined every 18 months during a period of 4 years.

Compared with those in the group that adhered to a Mediterranean diet the least, subjects in the middle tertile had a 15 to 21 percent lower risk of Alzheimer's disease, and those in the highest tertile had a 39 to 40 percent lower risk, the researchers found.

The association remained significant even after considering potential confounders such as age, gender, ethnicity, education, caloric intake, BMI, smoking and comorbid conditions.


High Blood Sugar Level Increases Risk of Alzheimer's Disease

People with high blood sugar levels may be at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, researchers report. Alzheimer's disease is linked with type 2 diabetes, but researchers say the link may develop much before patients are identified as diabetic.

The condition with high blood sugar levels that is not yet in the established diabetes range is called pre-diabetes. Researchers from Stockholm's Karolinska Institute said that people with higher than normal blood sugar levels could be at an increased risk for developing Alzheimer's disease at a later stage.

The researchers presented the findings of their nine-year study on the opening day of the 10th International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders in Madrid in 2006.

© 2004-2008 by unless otherwise specified

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