Alzheimer's disease manifest itself with widely divergent symptoms and, so far, its various expressions have mainly been observed through the behaviour and actions of patients. Researchers have now produced images showing the changes in the brain associated with these symptoms — a development which increases knowledge and could facilitate diagnosis and treatment in the future.
Symptoms vary in cases of Alzheimer's disease and often relate to the phase of life in which the disease first occurs. People who become ill before the age of 65 often suffer early on from diminished spatial perception and impaired orientation. Elderly patients more often suffer the symptoms traditionally associated with the disease: above all, memory impairment.
Diagnostics could be facilitated, mainly among younger patients in whom it is particularly difficult to arrive at a correct diagnosis.
The findings, published in the journal Brain, are based on studies of around 60 Alzheimer's patients and a control group consisting of 30 people with no cognitive impairment.
This new imaging method can clearly detect clumps of the tau protein, which forms lumps and destroys the transport route of the neurons once Alzheimer’s disease has taken hold.
The method uses a device known as a PET camera and a trace substance, a particular molecule, which binds to tau. The imaging method is currently only used in research, where the current study is one of several contributing to increased knowledge about the disease.
Reprinted from materials provided by Lund University.