Research Updates

in Uncategorized
September 19th, 2009

An Optical Test for Early Detection

Building on their exciting discovery that amyloidbeta protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) can be detected in the lens of an eye, Drs. Lee Goldstein and Juliet Moncaster and their team are developing new non-invasive optical tests that can detect and track the disease process in its earliest stages. Such tests are being developed and tested in mice. At the recent 13th meeting of the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease in Vienna, Austria, Drs. Goldstein and Moncaster presented a corresponding finding that amyloid-beta is also found in the lenses of patients with Down syndrome.

Envisioning Future Events is Impaired in AD

It is well-known that patients with AD have trouble remembering information from the recent past, but do they have difficulty imagining the future as well? This question is exactly what Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center (BU ADC) researchers Drs. Andrew Budson and Brandon Ally investigated in their paper, “Episodic simulation of future events is impaired in mild AD,” published in Neuropsychologia earlier this year. Patients with AD and healthy older adult controls were given a series of cue words and asked to either remember events from the past or imagine future events related to that word. Not only did the patients with AD have difficulty with both past and future tasks compared to the controls, the findings suggest that the same brain system responsible for remembering the past is also in charge of envisioning the future.

Ibuprofen & Cognitive Performance

In a collaborative project across several cores of the BU ADC, Drs. Ann McKee, Neil Kowall, and Alpaslan Dedeoglu recently published findings in Brain Research on the effects of ibuprofen on cognitive deficits, amyloid-beta, and tau accumulation in young triple transgenic mice. Learning performance of the mice was significantly improved with ibuprofen treatment compared to mice who did not receive the treatment. Ibuprofen-treated transgenic mice showed a significant decrease in intraneuronal oligomeric amyloid-beta and hyperphosphorylated tau immunoreactivity in the hippocampus, a part of the brain responsible for learning new information. Additional data suggest that intraneuronal amyloid-beta may be a cause of cognitive impairment. These findings support the idea that pathological alterations of tau are associated with intraneuronal oligomeric amyloid-beta accumulation.

Psychological Effects of Genetic Disclosure

Dr. Robert Green and the REVEAL study group recently published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine on the psychological effects of disclosing the AD risk-increasing apolipoprotein (APOE) ε4 genotype to adult children of patients with AD. Dr. Green and his colleagues found there were no significant increases in levels of anxiety, depression, or test-related distress for those who learned they were ε4-positive compared to those who did not receive their genotyping results, suggesting that disclosure of APOE genotype does not result in short-term psychological risks.