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New Biomarker of Alzheimer’s Disease

Posted Sep 05 2013 10:13pm

Alzheimer’s Disease is a burdensome and costly disease for which there presently exists no cure.  Consequently numerous international; efforts seek to innovate advance diagnostics, to detect the disease at its earliest stages.  Ramon Trullas, from the CSIC Institute of Biomedical Research (Spain), and colleagues have discovered that a decrease in the content of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) may be a preclinical indicator for Alzheimer's disease; furthermore, there may be a directly causative relationship. The team hypothesizes  that decreased mtDNA levels in CSF reflect the diminished ability of mitochondria to power the brain's neurons, triggering their death. The decrease in the concentration of mtDNA precedes the appearance of well-known biochemical Alzheimer's biomarkers (the A[beta]1-42, t-tau, and p-tau proteins), suggesting that the pathophysiological process of Alzheimer's disease starts earlier than previously thought.  The study authors submit that: “These findings support the hypothesis that mtDNA depletion is a characteristic pathophysiological factor of neurodegeneration in [Alzheimer’s Disease]. “

Petar Podlesniy, Joana Figueiro-Silva, Albert Llado, Anna Antonell, Raquel Sanchez-Valle, Ramon Trullas, et al.   “Low CSF concentration of mitochondrial DNA in preclinical Alzheimer's disease.”  Annals of Neurology, 22 June 2013.

  
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Tip #192 - Stay Connected
Researchers from the University of Chicago (Illinois, USA) report that social isolation may be detrimental to both mental and physical health. The team analyzed data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project, a nationwide US study involving 3,000 men and women, ages 57 to 85 years. They arrived at three key findings regarding the relationships between health and different types of isolation:

• The researchers found that the most socially connected older adults are three times as likely to report very good or excellent health compared to those who are least connected, regardless of whether they feel isolated.

• The team found that older adults who feel least isolated are five times as likely to report very good or excellent health as those who feel most isolated, regardless of their actual level of social connectedness.

• They determined that social disconnectedness is not related to mental health unless it brings feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Separately, Rush University Medical Center (Illinois, USA) researchers studied 906 older men and women, testing their motor functions (including grip, pinch strength, balance, and walking) and surveying their social activity, for a period of 5 years. Those study participants with less social activity were found to have a more rapid rate of motor function decline. Specifically, the team found that every one-point decrease in social activity corresponded to an increase in functional aging of 5 years, translating to a 40% higher risk of death and 65% higher risk of disability.

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