Globally, 47.5 million people are affected by Alzheimerās disease and other forms of dementia. Alzheimerās disease is characterized by the build-up of the proteins beta-amyloid and tau in the brain. Beta-amyloid plaque has been studied with the use of the positron emission tomography (PET) scan, while few methods have existed for scientists to study the build-up of tau protein. A recently publishedĀ study in the Science Translational Medicine announced that new tau imaging agents will help scientists further study tauās role in Alzheimerās.
In a cognitively healthy individual, tau transports nutrients and energy along nerve fibers in the brain. When tau builds up, it breaks down into distorted strands that are no longer able to transport nutrients effectively. These twisted strands are known as neurofibrillary tangles, and these tangles have been closely linked with the onset and progression of Alzheimerās disease.
Researchers from the Washington University in St. Louis tested the cognitive performance of 46 older adults and found that 36 were cognitively normal while ten had mild Alzheimerās disease. They performed PET scans using the new tau imaging agents and found that cognitively normal participants had very few tau tangles, while the Alzheimerās group had more tau tangles in the temporal lobe and cerebral cortex.
The research team also took cerebrospinal fluid measures of tau and found that these measures correlated more closely with tau deposition in the temporal lobe. Tau deposition in this area has been more closely linked to the status of dementia and is a better predictor of cognitive performance than beta-amyloid. The temporal lobe of the brain is heavily involved in sensory processing, visual memories, language comprehension and emotional understanding.
Overall, the study found that tau imaging predicts the status of Alzheimerās disease more accurately than beta-amyloid imaging does. Previous studies have investigatedĀ the whole progression of Alzheimerās disease in living participants using tau imaging. Beta-amyloid imaging, on the other hand, more accurately predicts the early disease state of Alzheimerās and is a better diagnosis tool. The tau imaging tool, however, is still in the testing phase.
The Cognitive Therapeutics Methodā¢ recommends eating a well-balanced diet, engaging in physical and mental activities, socializing and finding a sense of calm and purpose to help promote healthy brain functioning. Learn more about the method at www.CognitiveTherapeutics.com!