Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Molecular & Clinical Diagnostics
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Brain-Imaging, Stroke Risk Test Identify Cognitive Decline

Published: Thursday, April 04, 2013
Last Updated: Thursday, April 04, 2013
Bookmark and Share
UCLA researchers have used a brain-imaging tool and stroke risk assessment to identify signs of cognitive decline early on in individuals who don't yet show symptoms of dementia.

The connection between stroke risk and cognitive decline has been well established by previous research. Individuals with higher stroke risk, as measured by factors like high blood pressure, have traditionally performed worse on tests of memory, attention and abstract reasoning.

The current small study demonstrated that not only stroke risk, but also the burden of plaques and tangles, as measured by a UCLA brain scan, may influence cognitive decline.

The imaging tool used in the study was developed at UCLA and reveals early evidence of amyloid beta "plaques" and neurofibrillary tau "tangles" in the brain — the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease.

The study, published in the April issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, demonstrates that taking both stroke risk and the burden of plaques and tangles into accout may offer a more powerful assessment of factors determining how people are doing now and will do in the future.

"The findings reinforce the importance of managing stroke risk factors to prevent cognitive decline even before clinical symptoms of dementia appear," said first author Dr. David Merrill, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA.

This is one of the first studies to examine both stroke risk and plaque and tangle levels in the brain in relation to cognitive decline before dementia has even set in, Merrill said.

According to the researchers, the UCLA brain-imaging tool could prove useful in tracking cognitive decline over time and offer additional insight when used with other assessment tools.

For the study, the team assessed 75 people who were healthy or had mild cognitive impairment, a risk factor for the future development of Alzheimer's. The average age of the participants was 63.

The individuals underwent neuropsychological testing and physical assessments to calculate their stroke risk using the Framingham Stroke Risk Profile, which examines age, gender, smoking status, systolic blood pressure, diabetes, atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rhythm), use of blood pressure medications, and other factors.

In addition, each participant was injected with a chemical marker called FDDNP, which binds to deposits of amyloid beta plaques and neurofibrillary tau tangles in the brain. The researchers then used positron emission tomography (PET) to image the brains of the subjects — a method that enabled them to pinpoint where these abnormal proteins accumulate.

The study found that greater stroke risk was significantly related to lower performance in several cognitive areas, including language, attention, information-processing speed, memory, visual-spatial functioning (e.g., ability to read a map), problem-solving and verbal reasoning.

The researchers also observed that FDDNP binding levels in the brain correlated with participants' cognitive performance. For example, volunteers who had greater difficulties with problem-solving and language displayed higher levels of the FDDNP marker in areas of their brain that control those cognitive activities.

"Our findings demonstrate that the effects of elevated vascular risk, along with evidence of plaques and tangles, is apparent early on, even before vascular damage has occurred or a diagnosis of dementia has been confirmed," said the study's senior author, Dr. Gary Small, director of the UCLA Longevity Center and a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences who holds the Parlow–Solomon Chair on Aging at UCLA's Semel Institute.

Researchers found that several individual factors in the stroke assessment stood out as predictors of decline in cognitive function, including age, systolic blood pressure and use of blood pressure–related medications.

Small noted that the next step in the research would be studies with a larger sample size to confirm and expand the findings.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Crunching Numbers to Combat Cancer
UCSF receives $5 million to integrate data from cancer research models.
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Ultrafast DNA Diagnostics
New technology developed by UC Berkeley bioengineers promises to make a workhorse lab tool cheaper, more portable and many times faster by accelerating the heating and cooling of genetic samples with the switch of a light.
Monday, August 03, 2015
Genetic Markers for Detecting and Treating Ovarian Cancer
Custom bioinformatics algorithm identifies human mRNAs that distinguish ovarian cancer cells from normal cells and provide new therapeutic targets
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
May the Cellular Force be With You
Like tiny construction workers, cells sculpt embryonic tissues and organs in 3D space.
Friday, December 13, 2013
Chemical Signature for Fast Form of Parkinson's Found
The physical decline experienced by Parkinson's disease patients eventually leads to disability and a lower quality of life.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Discovery Could Lead to Saliva Test for Pancreatic Cancer
The disease is typically diagnosed through an invasive and complicated biopsy.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Cost-Effective Recommendations for Cancer Screening
When public health budgets are constrained, mammography screening should begin later and occur less frequently.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Sugar Helps Scientists Find and Assess Prostate Tumors
New GE technology enables UCSF researchers to safely detect tumors in real time.
Friday, August 23, 2013
Dentistry School Receives $5M to Study Saliva Biomarkers
Imagine having a sample of your saliva taken at the dentist's office, and then learning within minutes whether your risk for stomach cancer is higher than normal.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Detailed look at Genetics of Human, Mouse Embryos
Scientists have used the powerful technology of single-cell RNA sequencing to track the genetic development of a human and a mouse embryo with unprecedented accuracy.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Major Changes Urged for Cancer Screening and Treatment
Scientific panel recommends new personalized strategies to reduce cancer overtreatment.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Brain Anomolies are Potential Biomarkers for Autism
Brain anomalies may serve as potential biomarkers for the early identification of the neurodevelopmental disorder.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
App Helps Doctors, Students Learn to Diagnose Neurological Symptoms and Disease
The new app that presents a novel approach to learning the neurological physical exam, a challenging series of assessments aimed at diagnosing neurological disorders in patients.
Friday, May 17, 2013
Genetic Test Helps Predict Risk of Prostate Cancer Recurrence
Prostate cancer ranks as the most common internal malignancy diagnosed in men in the United States, but often does not require extensive treatment.
Friday, May 10, 2013
NIH Funds Study of Autism among African Americans
Five-year, $10 million grant to help continue research on the genetic causes of autism spectrum disorders and to expand investigations to include the genetics of autism in African Americans.
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Scientific News
Mathematical Model Forecasts the Path of Breast Cancer
Chances of survival depend on which organs breast cancer tumors colonize first.
Measuring microRNAs in Blood to Speed Cancer Detection
A simple, ultrasensitive microRNA sensor holds promise for the design of new diagnostic strategies and, potentially, for the prognosis and treatment of pancreatic and other cancers.
Biomedical Imaging at One-Thousandth the Cost
Mathematical modeling enables $100 depth sensor to approximate the measurements of a $100,000 piece of lab equipment.
Improving Outcomes for Lung Cancer and Diabetic Patients
Novel technologies have been developed with support from SBRI Healthcare funding.
New Way of Detecting Cancer
A new RNA test of blood platelets can be used to detect, classify and pinpoint the location of cancer by analysing a sample equivalent to one drop of blood.
Rapid, Portable Ebola Diagnostic
Scientists confirmed the efficiency of the novel Ebola detection method in field trials.
New, Better Test for Prostate Cancer
A study from Karolinska Institutet shows that a new test for prostate cancer is better at detecting aggressive cancer than PSA.
Blood Test Picks Out Prostate Cancer Drug Resistance
Scientists have developed a blood test that can identify key mutations driving resistance to a widely used prostate cancer drug, and identify in advance patients who will not respond to treatment.
Antibody Targets Key Cancer Marker
University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers have created a molecular structure that attaches to a molecule on highly aggressive brain cancer and causes tumors to light up in a scanning machine.
Key Piece of MRSA Vaccine Puzzle
New research funded by the Health Research Board and the Wellcome Trust has pinpointed immune cells that could be targeted by an MRSA vaccine.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos