Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Imaging Of Brain Chemicals Improves Alzheimers Diagnosis

Date:
July 13, 2000
Source:
University Of California, San Francisco
Summary:
Diagnosing Alzheimer's disease may become easier with the help of imaging studies from the San Francisco Veteran's Affairs Medical Center, which is affiliated with UC San Francisco. Using a variation on MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), the researchers report they can differentiate between Alzheimer's patients and healthy people, and between Alzheimer's and vascular dementia, a disease with similar symptoms.

Diagnosing Alzheimer's disease may become easier with the help of imagingstudies from the San Francisco Veteran's Affairs Medical Center, which isaffiliated with UC San Francisco. Using a variation on MRI (magnetic resonanceimaging), the researchers report they can differentiate between Alzheimer'spatients and healthy people, and between Alzheimer's and vascular dementia, adisease with similar symptoms.

The UCSF researchers, who presented their studies at the World AlzheimerCongress 2000 in Washington, DC, hope this technique might be used eventuallyto detect the degenerative disease at an earlier, more treatable stage.

The researchers used magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to detect the deathof brain cells by measuring the levels of certain chemical markers. MRS clearlyimproved the researchers' ability to distinguish patients with Alzheimer's fromthose without the disease, said Norbert Schuff, PhD, a UCSF assistant professorof radiology.

"The changes we observed are consistent with the regional patterns of damageseen in Alzheimer's disease," Schuff said. "MRS, combined with MRI, has thepotential to improve our ability to diagnose Alzheimer's, and to follow itsprogression," he added.

Schuff worked with Michael Weiner, MD, a UCSF professor of radiology,neurology, psychiatry, and medicine, and chief of the magnetic resonancespectroscopy unit at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, and othercolleagues. The team performed MRS on 41 patients with Alzheimer's disease, 11people who had been diagnosed with vascular dementia, 52 elderly people withapparently normal brain function, and 35 people who had signs of mild memoryand cognitive impairment but not dementia. They looked for decreases of thechemical N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA), a marker of healthy neurons. Theresearchers also took standard MRI measurements, which show progression ofAlzheimer's disease as a decrease in the size of certain brain lobes.

Patients with Alzheimer's disease had lower NAA levels in regions of the brainthat are damaged in the early stages of the disease, such as the hippocampusand the parietal cortex, Schuff said. When examining an unlabeled set ofpatient data, combining MRS results with standard MRI data "substantiallyimproved" their ability to identify correctly whether that patient was from theAlzheimer's group or not, he said.

Patients with vascular dementia also had a distinctive pattern of MRS resultsthat made it easier for the researchers to distinguish them from Alzheimer'spatients, and those with healthy brains, Schuff said. Although vasculardementia patients had NAA reductions in the parietal cortex similar toAlzheimer's patients, they did not share the reductions in the hippocampus, andthey had reductions in a different region, the frontal cortex, he said.

MRS may also help to identify people who are just beginning to developAlzheimer's disease, Schuff said. Patients who had mild cognitive impairmentbut not dementia, MRS results that were almost identical to Alzheimer'spatients. If later studies can show that patients like this, who havecognitive problems and a certain pattern of MRS results, are destined todevelop Alzheimer's later in life, then these patients could be selected forexperimental treatments that might stop the disease before it causes moreserious damage.

Although many clinics and hospitals in the US now have the MRI machines usedfor MRS, analysis of the data still requires the expertise of a PhD levelresearcher, Schuff said. One software company is already working on a programthat would allow interpretation of MRS data by lab technicians or other lessexperienced operators.

The promising MRS findings are important because of the limitations inherent inthe methods currently used to diagnose Alzheimer's disease, which is estimatedto affect ten percent of Americans age 65 or older. Abnormal clumps or knotsof brain cells provide ultimate proof of the disease, but they can only bediscovered during an autopsy, Schuff said. Tests of brain functions that aredamaged by the disease, such as language memory and reasoning, are onlysomewhat reliable. Genetic tests only show susceptibility to the disease, andnot the onset of the disease itself. Imaging of brain metabolism or blood flowwith PET (positron emission tomography) or another similar technique can aiddiagnosis, but requires very expensive equipment and for that reason isunavailable to most patients, he added.

Co-authors on the study were: Diane Amend and Antao Du, researchers in themagnetic resonance unit at the San Francisco VA Medical Center; William Jagust,MD, professor of medical neurology at UC Davis Medical Center; Helena Chui, MD,professor of neurology at University of Southern California; and KristineYaffe, MD, UCSF assistant professor of psychiatry.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California, San Francisco. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California, San Francisco. "Imaging Of Brain Chemicals Improves Alzheimers Diagnosis." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 July 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/07/000712075143.htm>.
University Of California, San Francisco. (2000, July 13). Imaging Of Brain Chemicals Improves Alzheimers Diagnosis. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/07/000712075143.htm
University Of California, San Francisco. "Imaging Of Brain Chemicals Improves Alzheimers Diagnosis." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/07/000712075143.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) It's unclear whether the American Ebola patients' recoveries can be attributed to an experimental drug or early detection and good medical care. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins