Alzheimer’s Disease: When Do Signs Start To Show?
Alzheimer’s affects over 5.3 million Americans, so chances you know someone who is suffering from the disease. Alzheimer’s is scary because your memory starts fading, sometimes at alarming rates. The tricky thing about Alzheimer’s is that up till this point there’s been very research done on how to predict where the disease comes from, how it fully effects us, and if there are any ways to prevent it. Thanks to researchers, we’re finally getting some answers.
Researchers know Alzheimer's development is related to death of brain cells, or neurons, which leads to the memory loss and behavioral changes that are associated with the disease.
Furthermore, it is believed that brain cell death in Alzheimer's is related to a combination of inflammatory brain changes, tangles that develop inside neurons, and the development of plaques between brain cells.
Researches decided to study 50 people, a portion with Alzheimer's in their genetic history, to see if they could predict the onset. According to Medical News Today, All subjects were injected with three radioactive tracer molecules prior to PET scans which allowed the researchers to track plaque levels and inflammation related to activation of astrocytes, the most common support cell in the brain.
PET scans were repeated for half of the participants 3 years later, allowing the team to assess brain changes over time, and all subjects were required to complete memory tests.
According to researchers, astrocyte activation peaks roughly 20 years before the expected symptoms and then goes into decline, in contrast to the accumulation of amyloid plaques, which increases constantly over time until clinical symptoms show.
More importantly for regular people, it is approximately 7 years prior to the onset of Alzheimer's symptoms that brain cell function starts to decline, according to the researchers. This means that Alzheimer’s can essentially be predicted by PET scans up to 20 years early. Researchers also note that astrocytes could be a possible drug target for the condition; reducing astrocyte activation early on could stop the disease from developing or change its course of progression.
Carlsbad Open MRI will continue to follow the research and progress made towards helping us further understand Alzheimer's Disease.