A team of scientists, led by Professor Jon Dobson, of Keele University in Staffordshire, UK, have found, for the first time, raised levels of magnetic iron oxides in the part of the brain affected by Alzheimer's Disease (AD).
Their research has also shown that this association was particularly strong in females compared to males. The group speculates that this may be a result of gender differences in the way the body handles and stores iron.
Though the results are based on a small number of samples, they give an indication that iron accumulation associated with Alzheimer's appears to involve the formation of strongly magnetic iron compounds. As these compounds have a strong effect on MRI signal intensity, with further study, it may be possible to use this as a biomarker for the development of an MRI-based Alzheimer's diagnostic technique.
The research team also included Quentin Pankhurst, London Centre for Nanotechnology and Department of Physics & Astronomy, University College, London; Dimitri Hautot, Institute of Science and Technology in Medicine, Keele University, and Nadeem Khan, Department of Neuropathology, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London.
The study looked at brain tissue from 11 Alzheimers Disease and 11 age-matched control subjects. It showed, for the first time, that the total concentration of biogenic magnetite is generally higher in the Alzheimer brain (in some cases as much as 15 times greater than controls) and that there are gender-based differences, with Alzheimers Disease with female subjects having significantly higher concentrations than all other groups.
Professor Dobson said: Iron accumulation and dysregulation of iron transport and storage has been found to be associated with many other neurodegenerative conditions,
such as Parkinsons disease, Huntingtons disease (HD), multiple sclerosis and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. In recent years, a hereditary neurodegenerative diseas
|Contact: Chris Stone|