Summary: A combination of neuroimaging and long term memory tests could help with the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers report.
Source: University of Edinburgh.
People with Alzheimer’s disease could benefit from earlier diagnosis if a long-term memory test combined with a brain scan were carried out, a study suggests.
Scientists say testing memory over a long timescale reveals early deficits in the brain’s ability to remember. These are not detected by checks for short-term forgetfulness, which is the current practice for diagnosis.
The study also suggests that a brain scan in combination with a memory test could identify early abnormalities in the brain activity of Alzheimer’s patients that would be otherwise undetected.
Researchers say that the type of memory loss revealed by such tests could potentially be reversed by the development of new treatments.
A team at the University of Edinburgh, in collaboration with colleagues in the US, studied long-term memory in young mice, some of which had the equivalent of very early stage Alzheimer’s disease, and some of which were healthy.
Scientists taught both groups of mice to locate a hidden platform in a pool filled with water, using signs on the wall of the room to navigate.
The results showed that when tested shortly after the initial task, both groups of mice were able to remember the way to the platform.
However, when tested one week later, the mice in the Alzheimer’s group had significantly more difficulty in remembering the route.
Tests revealed that brain activity was normal in both groups of mice at this young age, when no task was involved.
However, the brain activity in the Alzheimer’s group was significantly decreased compared with the healthy mice when tested as they tried to remember the way to the platform.
Scientists say the results show that when short-term memory is used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease – as is currently the case – it may not reveal the true extent of memory loss at the onset of the condition.
The team says that by testing long-term memory, it may be possible to detect the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease and offer interventions sooner.
Professor Richard Morris, who led the research at the University of Edinburgh, said: “We recognise that tests with animals must be interpreted with caution, but the use of these genetic models in conjunction with appropriate testing is pointing at an important dimension of early diagnosis.”
Dr Vassilios Beglopoulos, of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Cognitive and Neural Systems, said: “It is widely acknowledged that earlier intervention is needed to effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease, and better diagnostic tools are needed for that. We believe that our approach could make a significant contribution.”
Funding: The research has been published in Nature Communications. It was supported by the EU Framework 7 programme, Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy, the Medical Research Council and the European Research Council.
Source: Anna Borthwick – University of Edinburgh
Image Source: This NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
Original Research: Full open access research for “Early detection of cryptic memory and glucose uptake deficits in pre-pathological APP mice” by V. Beglopoulos, J. Tulloch, A. D. Roe, S. Daumas, L. Ferrington, R. Watson, Z. Fan, B. T. Hyman, P. A. T. Kelly, F. Bard and R. G. M. Morris in Nature Communications. Published online June 1 2016 doi:10.1038/ncomms11761
[cbtabs][cbtab title=”MLA”]University of Edinburgh. “Long-Term Memory Test Could Aid Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 1 June 2016.
<https://neurosciencenews.com/alzheimers-long-term-memory-test-4350/>.[/cbtab][cbtab title=”APA”]University of Edinburgh. (2016, June 1). Long-Term Memory Test Could Aid Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. NeuroscienceNews. Retrieved June 1, 2016 from https://neurosciencenews.com/alzheimers-long-term-memory-test-4350/[/cbtab][cbtab title=”Chicago”]University of Edinburgh. “Long-Term Memory Test Could Aid Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.” https://neurosciencenews.com/alzheimers-long-term-memory-test-4350/ (accessed June 1, 2016).[/cbtab][/cbtabs]
Early detection of cryptic memory and glucose uptake deficits in pre-pathological APP mice
Earlier diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease would greatly benefit from the identification of biomarkers at the prodromal stage. Using a prominent animal model of aspects of the disease, we here show using clinically relevant methodologies that very young, pre-pathological PDAPP mice, which overexpress mutant human amyloid precursor protein in the brain, exhibit two cryptic deficits that are normally undetected using standard methods of assessment. Despite learning a spatial memory task normally and displaying normal brain glucose uptake, they display faster forgetting after a long delay following performance to a criterion, together with a strong impairment of brain glucose uptake at the time of attempted memory retrieval. Preliminary observations suggest that these deficits, likely caused by an impairment in systems consolidation, could be rescued by immunotherapy with an anti-β-amyloid antibody. Our data suggest a biomarker strategy for the early detection of β-amyloid-related abnormalities.
“Early detection of cryptic memory and glucose uptake deficits in pre-pathological APP mice” by V. Beglopoulos, J. Tulloch, A. D. Roe, S. Daumas, L. Ferrington, R. Watson, Z. Fan, B. T. Hyman, P. A. T. Kelly, F. Bard and R. G. M. Morris in Nature Communications. Published online June 1 2016 doi:10.1038/ncomms11761