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Alzheimer's risk gene disrupts brain's wiring 50 years before disease hits
Date:5/13/2011

f brain connections," he said. Still, he said, with the passage of time and when exacerbated by other factors, such as normal neuron death as we age and plaque and tangle development in the early stages of Alzheimer's reduced myelin integrity could facilitate cognitive impairment.

"So it's unlikely we are seeing the earliest possible signs of Alzheimer's-associated brain changes in these young people," Thompson said. "It's more likely the reduced fiber integrity represents an early developmental vulnerability that may reduce brain resilience to later Alzheimer's disease pathology. Inn other words, its mechanism of action may not be part of the classic Alzheimer's pathways that lead to abnormal amyloid plaque and neurofibrillary tangle accumulation in the brain."

The mapping of structural brain differences in those at genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease is crucial for evaluating treatment and prevention strategies, Thompson said. Once identified, brain differences can be monitored to determine how lifestyle choices influence brain health and disease risk.

"We know that many lifestyle factors, such as regular exercise and a healthful diet, may reduce the risk of cognitive decline, particularly in those genetically at risk for Alzheimer's, so this reminds us how important that is," he said.


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Contact: Mark Wheeler
mwheeler@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2265
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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