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Weight loss may be early predictor of Alzheimer’s disease in Down syndrome

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Unintentional weight loss in people with Down’s syndrome may predict the development of Alzheimer’s disease long before typical cognitive symptoms such as memory loss and dementia appear.

as many 90% of people with Down syndrome experience Alzheimer’s symptoms By the time they reach the age of 65, the brain changes associated with the disease appear decades ago.the study Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison recently published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease We show that unintentional weight loss beginning in the mid-to-late 30s is consistent with early Alzheimer’s disease hallmarks in individuals with Down’s syndrome. This finding indicates that weight loss may be a useful predictor of disease before the onset of cognitive impairment, which is often diagnostic trigger.

Victoria Fleming

“It may be possible to track weight loss as a way to make an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Victoria Fleming, Ph.D. student in Human Development and Family Studies and lead author of the study. says. “Measurement of weight change is convenient and low-cost to follow, as opposed to screening for early disease pathology by blood tests, imaging scans, or cerebrospinal fluid examination.”

The high incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in Down’s syndrome is rooted in the triplication of chromosome 21 that is characteristic of Down’s syndrome. This chromosome carries one of the genes that regulates the production of amyloid beta. Brain functions leading to cognitive deficits seen in Alzheimer’s disease.

For people without Down syndrome, being overweight or obese in middle age increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Fleming’s original interest was to examine this association in people with Down syndrome. However, the results were astonishing.

Shigan Hartley

“We were really intrigued because when we looked at the data and the time course when weight changed, we found that unintended weight loss is more likely to be associated with early Alzheimer’s disease pathology in the brain. Because we saw a strong story in action.” Shigan HartleyUW-Madison Professor of Human Development and Family Studies and senior author of the new study.

The study looked at data from 261 adults with Down’s syndrome aged 25 to 65, weighed first, and weighed again approximately 18 months later. At both times, they completed a battery of cognitive tests and underwent brain scans to measure levels of amyloid beta and tau, proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

People with Down’s syndrome who participated in this study began to show unintended weight loss in their mid-thirties at the same time that amyloid deposits formed. accumulation was highest.

“The finding that unintended weight loss appears to be consistent with the accumulation of these proteins may indicate that these processes are related or share causative pathways. That’s what we’re going to look at next,” says Hartley.

The result leads to what Hartley calls the weight paradox.

“A high BMI in middle age may put you at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. can also be true,” says Hartley.

Scientists can only speculate about the biological reasons for the relationship between unintended weight loss and the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. One hypothesis is that amyloid buildup causes changes in brain metabolism and hormonal balance, leading to fat and muscle loss.

Fleming’s next study focused on how unintended weight loss occurs, addressing the weight paradox by examining midlife BMI and the trajectory of unintended weight loss at multiple time points in Down’s syndrome. You will unravel.

“There aren’t many good clinical signs that someone may be nearing the peak of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease,” says Hartley. It suggests that non-cognitive signs, including decline, may be present, which may help predict who will develop dementia early or later.”

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