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Hallmark Alzheimer's disease changes found in retinas of humans and imaged in live animals
Date:6/24/2010

ufficient detail about these changes, the most definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease comes after an autopsy.

The research team considered the retina a better target for noninvasive imaging of Alzheimer's disease because it is readily accessible and, unlike other components of the eye, it is part of the central nervous system, having a direct connection and thus many similarities with the brain. Previous studies have documented non-specific visual disturbances, eye disorders and certain types of retinal abnormalities occurring with Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative conditions, but this is the first to identify human retinal plaque deposits that could provide a specific diagnostic marker of Alzheimer's disease.

Among the new findings:

  1. In lab tests, plaques in the retinas of mice genetically modified to model Alzheimer's disease could be detected at a very early, pre-symptomatic stage before the plaque appeared in the brain.
  2. A high-resolution, noninvasive optical imaging approach was developed to monitor individual beta-amyloid plaques in the retinas of live mice. The system is based on a harmless specific marker and the adaptation of an existing optical system used to examine rodent eyes.
  3. The research team used a fluorescent compound called curcumin to label and detect retinal plaques. This is believed to be the first use of curcumin as an imaging agent to detect Alzheimer's disease-related plaques in the retinas of live animals. Curcumin, a natural component of the spice turmeric, binds to beta-amyloid plaques and makes them visible when viewed microscopically. In the Cedars-Sinai research, curcumin injected into the bloodstream of live mice crossed the blood-retinal barrier and specifically bound to the retinal plaques, allowing them to be viewed in high resolution with a noninvasive procedure.
  4. Observations from multiple genetically engineered mouse models of Alzheimer's disease demonstr
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Contact: Sandy Van
sandy@prpacific.com
808-526-1708
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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