Monthly Archives: February 2014

A new ADI report highlights that undernutrition is a major problem among people with dementia and stresses the importance of recognising nutrition as a potential key factor in the wellbeing of people with dementia.

Research reviewed in the report finds that 20-45% of those with dementia in the community experience clinically significant weight loss over one year. The report reviews existing research on dietary factors across the life course that might increase or decrease the risk of developing dementia in later life. While obesity in mid-life may be a risk factor for developing dementia in late life, weight loss tends to become a more significant issue in the decade leading up to the clinical onset of the disease and accelerates thereafter.

The report also details actions that could improve the nutrition of people with dementia through diet and external factors such as modifying the mealtime environment, and supporting and training carers. Given the evidence for effective interventions, there is much untapped potential to improve the food intake and nutritional status of people with dementia.

Source: Alzheimer Disease International

A more intensive exercise program specifically designed for people in hospital with dementia has been shown to add benefits over normal rehabilitation.

The study was published in the February 2014 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (requires subscription to view full article).

A pre-press version of “An Intensive Exercise Program Improves Motor Performances in Patients with Dementia: Translational Model of Geriatric Rehabilitation at the links below:

The underlying genetics of neurodegenerative disorders tend not to be well understood. This study links HSP to other neurodegenerative disorders and can potentially facilitate further gene discovery and mechanistic understanding of neurodegenerative diseases.

Hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSPs) are neurodegenerative motor neuron diseases characterized by progressive age-dependent loss of corticospinal motor tract function.

In this study, researchers investigated the underlying genetics of hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP), a human neurodegenerative disease, by sequencing the exomes of individuals with recessive neurological disorders. Loss-of-function gene mutations in both novel genes and genes previously implicated for this condition were identified, and several were functionally validated. 

Source:  Science Magazine (requires subscription to view full article)

The word “chaperone” refers to an adult who keeps teenagers from acting up at a dance or overnight trip. It also describes a type of protein that can guard the brain against its own troublemakers: misfolded proteins that are involved in several neurodegenerative diseases.

Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine have demonstrated that as animals age, their brains are more vulnerable to misfolded proteins, partly because of a decline in chaperone activity.

The researchers were studying a model of spinocerebellar ataxia, but the findings have implications for understanding other diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.

They also identified targets for potential therapies: bolstering levels of either a particular chaperone or a growth factor in brain cells can protect against the toxic effects of misfolded proteins.

The results were published in the journal Neuron.

Source:  Medical Express

A number of studies have shown that exercise can remodel the brain by prompting the creation of new brain cells and inducing other changes. Now it appears that inactivity, too, can remodel the brain, according to a new report.

The study, which was conducted in rats but likely has implications for people too, the researchers say, found that being sedentary changes the shape of certain neurons in ways that significantly affect not just the brain but the heart as well. The findings may help to explain, in part, why a sedentary lifestyle is so bad for us.

Source:  New York Times Blogs