Early detection of Alzheimer's disease by combining apolipoprotein E and neuroimaging.
New treatments for Alzheimer's disease (AD) are more likely to slow or halt disease progression rather than to reverse existing neuronal damage. Identifying persons with mild cognitive complaints who are at risk for AD will allow investigators to apply anti-dementia treatments before extensive brain damage develops. The discovery of the apolipoprotein E epsilon 4 allele (APOE epsilon 4) as a major risk factor for AD offers promise of assisting in early detection and prediction of Alzheimer's disease, particularly when genetic assessments are combined with other biomarkers such as neuroimaging. Studies of relatives at risk for familial AD using neuroimaging (positron emission tomography [PET]) and genetic assessments of APOE suggest that at-risk relatives with APOE epsilon 4 have lower parietal metabolism than those without APOE epsilon 4. Additional techniques that might increase sensitivity and specificity include longitudinal assessment of clinical and brain functional change, pharmacological challenges of short-acting anticholinergic agents, and memory activation paradigms during functional scanning. Such strategies should eventually assist in early detection of AD and in vivo therapeutic monitoring of brain function during experimental anti-dementia treatment trials.
Small, GW; Komo, S; La Rue, A; Saxena, S; Phelps, ME; Mazziotta, JC; Saunders, AM; Haines, JL; Pericak-Vance, MA; Roses, AD
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