Scientists at the Layton Center for Aging & Alzheimer's Disease Research in the OHSU School of Medicine's Department of Neurology found that rates of total brain volume loss may help identify patients with mild cognitive impairment who are at high risk of developing dementia. The discovery could help doctors plan early treatment strategies and prevention studies.
Joseph F. Quinn, M.D., study co-author and assistant professor of neurology, and cell and developmental biology, OHSU School of Medicine, called the findings "very important."
"The measurements can be used to both screen people for prevention studies and to monitor the effects of intervention," said Quinn, an investigator at the OHSU Layton Center for Aging & Alzheimer's Disease Research.
The study was presented yesterday at the 56th annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in San Francisco.
Researchers followed 55 people over the course of 14 years, examining each person twice a year. None of the subjects were cognitively impaired at the start of the study. Tests were conducted to determine cognitive ratings for each individual and their placement in one of three categories: intact cognition, mild cognitive impairment that was stable, and mild cognitive impairment that progressed to Alzheimer's disease.
Eighteen participants did not develop cognitive impairment, while 37 individuals met the criteria for mild cognitive impairment, and 13 of them remained stable. The remaining 24 people declined to Alzheimer's disease. Two brain scans using magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, were performed on the participants to measure their brain volumes and rates of brain atrophy, or shrinkage.