Genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) may be conferred by the susceptibility polymorphism apolipoprotein E (APOE), where the ε4 allele increases the risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s disease but is not a definitive predictor of the disease, or by autosomal dominant mutations (e.g., the presenilins), which almost inevitably result in early-onset familial Alzheimer’s disease. The purpose of this study was to compare the psychological impact of using these two different types of genetic information to disclose genetic risk for AD to family members of affected patients.
Data were compared from two separate protocols. The Risk Evaluation and Education for Alzheimer’s Disease (REVEAL) Study is a randomized, multi-site clinical trial that evaluated the impact of susceptibility testing for Alzheimer’s disease with APOE in 101 adult children of Alzheimer’s disease patients. A separate study, conducted at the University of Washington, assessed the impact of deterministic genetic testing by disclosing presenilin-1, presenilin-2, or TAU genotype to 22 individuals at risk for familial Alzheimer’s disease or frontotemporal dementia. In both protocols, participants received genetic counseling and completed the Impact of Event Scale (IES), a measure of test-specific distress. Scores were analyzed at the time point closest to one year post-disclosure at which IES data were available. The role of genetic test result (positive vs. negative) and type of genetic testing (deterministic vs. susceptibility) in predicting log-transformed IES scores was assessed with linear regression, controlling for age, gender, and time from disclosure.
Subjects from the REVEAL Study who learned that they were positive for the susceptibility gene APOE ε4+ experienced similar, low levels of test-specific distress compared to those who received positive results of deterministic testing in the University of Washington study (p= 0.78). APOE ε4+ individuals in the susceptibility protocol experienced more test-specific distress than those who tested ε4− in the same study (p= 0.04); however, among those receiving deterministic test disclosure, the subjects who received positive results did not experience significantly higher levels of distress when compared to those who received negative results (p= 0.88).
The findings of this preliminary study, with limited sample size, suggest that the test-related distress experienced by those receiving positive results for a deterministic mutation is similar to the distress experienced by those receiving positive results from genetic susceptibility testing, and that the majority of participants receiving genotype disclosure do not experience clinically significant distress as indicated by IES scores one year after learning of their test results.
genetic susceptibility testing; deterministic testing; Alzheimer’s disease; APOE; genetic counseling
Susceptibility testing for common, complex adult-onset diseases is projected to become more commonplace as the rapid pace of genomic discoveries continues, and evidence regarding the potential benefits and harms of such testing is needed to inform medical practice and health policy. Apolipoprotein E (APOE) testing for risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) provides a paradigm in which to examine the process and impact of disclosing genetic susceptibility for a prevalent, severe and incurable neurological condition. This review summarizes findings from a series of multi-site randomized clinical trials examining psychological and behavioral responses to various methods of genetic risk assessment for AD using APOE disclosure. We discuss challenges involved in disease risk estimation and communication and the extent to which participants comprehend and perceive utility in their genetic risk information. Findings on the psychological impact of test results are presented (e.g., distress), along with data on participants’ health behavior and insurance purchasing responses (e.g., long term care). Finally, we report comparisons of the safety and efficacy of intensive genetic counseling approaches to briefer models that emphasize streamlined processes and educational materials. The implications of these findings for the emerging field of personal genomics are discussed, with directions identified for future research.
The number of elderly patients seeking clinical treatment for memory problems will rise sharply in coming years as our population ages. These patients present a challenge for diagnosis and prognosis since cognitive problems in older patients can arise from many etiologies, some of which are curable. With the development of clinically available biomarkers for detecting Alzheimer’s disease pathology in living patients, evaluation of cognitively impaired elderly patients is about to undergo a major paradigm shift. This article describes the two classes of biomarkers available for assessing Alzheimer’s disease risk: those that indicate presence of amyloid pathology and those that provide evidence of neuronal injury and neurodegeneration. We argue that, currently, incorporation of biomarkers of neurodegeneration can help in patient prognosis whereas tests for amyloid, if used in isolation, have potential for harm. Amyloid tests are clinically useful only when evidence suggests progressive cognitive decline or neurodegeneration.
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid imaging; biomarker; florbetapir; MCI; mild cognitive impairment; MRI; PET
Alzheimer disease is the most common cause of dementia. It occurs worldwide and affects all ethnic groups. The incidence of Alzheimer disease is increasing due, in part, to increased life expectancy and the aging baby boomer generation. The average lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer disease is 10–12%. This risk at least doubles with the presence of a first-degree relative with the disorder. Despite its limited utility, patients express concern over their risk and, in some instances, request testing. Furthermore, research has demonstrated that testing individuals for apoli-poprotein E can be valuable and safe in certain contexts. However, because of the complicated genetic nature of the disorder, few clinicians are prepared to address the genetic risks of Alzheimer disease with their patients. Given the increased awareness in family history thanks to family history campaigns, the increasing incidence of Alzheimer disease, and the availability of direct to consumer testing, patient requests for information is increasing. This practice guideline provides clinicians with a framework for assessing their patients’ genetic risk for Alzheimer disease, identifying which individuals may benefit from genetic testing, and providing the key elements of genetic counseling for AD.
Alzheimer disease; dementia; guideline; genetic testing; genetic counseling
To test the hypothesis that harm avoidance, a trait associated with behavioral inhibition, is associated with risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
A total of 791 adults aged 55 years and older without dementia completed a standard self report measure of harm avoidance. They then underwent annual evaluations that included detailed cognitive testing and clinical classification of mild cognitive impairment, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. In a uniform neuropathologic examination of those who died, counts of neuritic plaques diffuse plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles were standardized and combined to yield a pathologic measure of disease. The relation of harm avoidance to incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and related outcomes was estimated in analyses adjusted for age, sex, and education.
During a mean of 3.5 years of annual observation, 98 people (12.4%) developed incident Alzheimer’s disease. High level of harm avoidance (90th percentile) was associated with a more than twofold increase in risk of Alzheimer’s disease compared to a low score (10th percentile). Higher harm avoidance was also associated with increased incidence of mild cognitive impairment and more rapid decline in episodic memory, working memory, and perceptual speed (but not semantic memory or visuospatial ability). In 116 participants who died and underwent brain autopsy, harm avoidance was not related to a composite measure of plaques and tangles.
High level of the harm avoidance trait, indicating a tendency toward behavioral inhibition, is related to risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and its precursor, mild cognitive impairment.
Harm avoidance; Alzheimer’s disease; mild cognitive impairment; cognitive decline; longitudinal studies; brain autopsy
There is epidemiological evidence that cardiovascular risk factors (CVRF) also are risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, but there is limited information on this from neuro-pathological studies, and even less from in vivo studies. Therefore, we examined the relationship between CVRF and amyloid-β (Aβ) brain burden measured by Pittsburgh Compound B-positron emission tomography (PiB-PET) studies in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative.
Ninety-nine subjects from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative cohort who had a PiB-PET study measure, apolipoprotein E genotyping data, and information available on CVRF (body mass index [BMI], systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure [DBP1 and cholesterol and fasting glucose test results) were included. Eighty-one subjects also had plasma cortisol C-reactive protein, and superoxide dismutase 1 measurements. Stepwise regression models were used to assess the relation between the CVRF and the composite PiB-PET score.
The first model included the following as baseline variables: age, clinical diagnosis, number of apolipoprotein ε4 alleles, BMI (P = .023), and DBP (P = .012). BMI showed an inverse relation with PiB-PET score, and DBP had a positive relation with PiB-PET score. In the second adjusted model, cortisol plasma levels were also associated with PiB-PET score (P = .004). Systolic blood pressure, cholesterol, or impaired fasting glucose were not found to be associated with PiB-PET values.
In this cross-sectional study, we found an association between Aβ brain burden measured in vivo and DBP and cortisol, indicating a possible link between these CVRF and Aβ burden measured by PiB-PET. These findings highlight the utility of biomarkers to explore potential pathways linking diverse Alzheimer’s disease risk factors.
Alzheimer disease; Vascular risk factors; PiB; Amyloid-β; Cortisol; Blood pressure; Body mass index
Agitation is one of the most common neuropsychiatric symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and is associated with serious adverse consequences for patients and caregivers. Evidence-supported treatment options for agitation are limited. The citalopram for agitation in Alzheimer’s disease (CitAD) study was designed to evaluate the potential of citalopram to ameliorate these symptoms.
CitAD is a randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled multicenter clinical trial with two parallel treatment groups assigned in a 1:1 ratio and randomization stratified by clinical center. The study has eight recruiting clinical centers, a chair’s office and a coordinating center located in university settings in the United States and Canada. 200 people having probable Alzheimer’s disease with clinically significant agitation and without major depression are being recruited. Patients are randomized to receive citalopram (target dose of 30 mg/day) or matching placebo. Caregivers of patients in both treatment groups receive a structured psychosocial therapy. Agitation will be compared between treatment groups using the NeuroBehavioral Rating Scale and the AD Cooperative Study- Clinical Global Impression of Change which are the primary outcomes. Functional performance, cognition, caregiver distress and rates of adverse and serious adverse events will also be measured.
The authors believe the design elements in CitAD are important features to be included in trials assessing the safety and efficacy of psychotropic medications for clinically significant agitation in Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer dementia; citalopram; agitation; randomized trial
Of the estimated 5.3 million people with Alzheimer's disease in the United States, more than half would be classified as having moderate or severe disease. Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disorder with the moderate to severe stages generally characterized by significant cognitive, functional, and behavioral dysfunction. Unsurprisingly, these advanced stages are often the most challenging for both patients and their caregivers/families. Symptomatic treatments for moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease are approved in the United States and include the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor donepezil and the glutamate receptor antagonist memantine. Progressive symptomatic decline is nevertheless inevitable even with the available therapies, and therefore additional treatment options are urgently needed for this segment of the Alzheimer's disease population. An immediate-release formulation of donepezil has been available at an approved dose of 5-10 mg/d for the past decade. Recently, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved a higher-dose (23 mg/d) donepezil formulation, which provides more gradual systemic absorption, a longer time to maximum concentration (8 hours) versus the immediate-release formulation (3 hours), and higher daily concentrations. Herein, we review (1) the scientific data on the importance of cholinergic deficits in Alzheimer's disease treatment strategies, (2) the rationale for the use of higher-dose acetylcholinesterase inhibitors in patients with advanced disease, and (3) recent clinical evidence supporting the use of higher-dose donepezil in patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease.
This paper describes the development and psychometric properties of a new scale for assessing the psychological impact of genetic susceptibility testing for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The new instrument, The REVEAL Impact of Genetic Testing for Alzheimer’s disease (IGT-AD) was designed to examine the unique nature of genetic information and the disease course of AD. The scale was tested as a part of a multicenter clinical trial designed to evaluate the impact of AD risk assessment and data was collected from 276 participants in the study. Using an iterative process of Principal Component Analysis and Cronbach’s alpha, the final 16 item IGT-AD was found to have a two factor structure with excellent internal reliability. Construct validity was established by patterns of correlation with other standardized self-reported measures. This scale should be useful in the identification of patients who maybe susceptible to the negative effects of receiving genetic information, monitoring of patients who have received genetic information, and as a tool for researchers who wish to study the effects of genetic susceptibility testing for AD.
Alzheimer’s disease genetics; genetic testing; Alzheimer’s disease risk assessment
The objective of this manuscript is to provide a comprehensive review of the epidemiologic evidence linking the continuum of adiposity, hyperinsulinemia, and diabetes with Alzheimer’s disease. The mechanisms for these associations remain to be elucidated, but may include direct actions from insulin, advanced products of glycosilation, cerebrovascular disease, and products of adipose tissue metabolism. Elevated adiposity in middle age is related to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The evidence relating adiposity in old age to Alzheimer’s disease is conflicting. Several studies have shown that hyperinsulinemia, a consequence of higher adiposity and insulin resistance, is also related to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Hyperinsulinemia is a risk factor for diabetes, and numerous studies have shown a relation of diabetes with higher Alzheimer’s disease risk. Most studies fail the take into account the continuum linking these risk factors which may result in underestimation of their importance in Alzheimer’s disease. The implication of these associations is that a large proportion of the world population may be at increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease given the trends for increasing prevalence of overweight, obesity, hyperinsulinemia, and diabetes. However, if proven causal, these associations also present a unique opportunity for prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
adiposity; overweight; obesity; hyperinsulinemia; insulin; glucose; diabetes; alzheimer’s disease; cognitive impairment
Research involving persons with impaired decision-making capacity, such as persons with Alzheimer’s disease, remains ethically challenging, especially when the research involves significant risk. If subjects incapable of consenting to research studies were still able to appoint a research proxy, it would allow for an appointed surrogate, rather than a de facto surrogate, to represent the subject.
To assess the extent to which persons with Alzheimer’s disease retain their capacity to appoint a research proxy.
Design, Setting, and Participants
188 persons with Alzheimer’s disease were interviewed for their capacity to appoint a proxy (CAP) for research and to provide consent to two hypothetical research scenarios, a lower risk randomized clinical trial testing a new drug (drug RCT) and a higher risk randomized clinical trial testing neurosurgical cell implants using a sham control condition (neurosurgical RCT). Categorical capacity status for each subject was determined by independent videotape reviews of capacity interviews by five experienced psychiatrists.
Main Outcome Measures
Categorical capacity determinations for the capacity to appoint a research proxy, capacity to consent to a drug RCT, and capacity to consent to a neurosurgical RCT.
37.7% (40/106) of those deemed incapable of consenting to the drug RCT and 54.4% (86/157) of those deemed incapable of consenting to the neurosurgical RCT were still found capable of appointing a research proxy. Very few subjects (7/186, 3.8%) were deemed capable of consenting to the neurosurgical RCT by all five psychiatrists.
A substantial proportion of AD subjects thought incapable of consenting to lower or to higher risk studies have preserved capacity for appointing a research proxy. Since so few subjects are found to be unequivocally capable of providing independent consent to higher risk AD research, providing for an appointed surrogate even after the onset of AD, which might best be done in the very early stages of the illness, may help address key ethical challenges to AD research.
Memory loss and cognitive failure are increasingly being identified as potential risks with the recognized increase in life expectancy of the general population. As a result, the development of novel therapeutic strategies for disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease have garnered increased attention. The etiologies that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease are extremely varied, but a number of therapeutic options are directed against amyloid-β peptide and inflammatory cell regulation to prevent or halt progressive cognitive loss. In particular, inflammatory microglial cells may have disparate functions that in some scenarios lead to disability through the removal of functional neurovascular cells and in other circumstances foster tissue repair. Given the significance microglial cells hold for neurodegenerative disorders, we therefore examined the function that amyloid (Aβ1–42) has upon the microglial cell line EOC 2 and identified a novel role for the forkhead transcription factor FoxO3a and caspase 3. Here we show that Aβ1–42 leads to progressive injury and apoptotic cell loss in microglial cells that involves both early phosphatidylserine (PS) externalization and late genomic DNA fragmentation over a 24 hour course. Prior to these injury programs, Aβ1–42 results in the activation and proliferation of microglia as demonstrated by increased proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) expression and bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) uptake. Both apoptotic injury as well as the prior activation and proliferation of microglial cells relies upon the presence of FoxO3a, since specific gene silencing of FoxO3a promotes microglial cell protection and prevents the early activation and proliferation of these cells. Furthermore, Aβ1–42 exposure maintained FoxO3a in an unphosphorylated “active” state and facilitated the cellular trafficking of FoxO3a from the cytoplasm to the cell nucleus to potentially lead to “pro-apoptotic” programs by this transcription factor. One apoptotic program in particular appears to involve the activation of caspase 3, since loss of FoxO3a through gene silencing prevents the induction of caspase 3 activity by Aβ1–42.
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid; apoptosis; bromodeoxyuridine; caspases; forkhead transcription factors; FoxO3a; inflammation; microglia; oxidative stress; proliferating cell nuclear antigen
Patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) are at high risk of progression to Alzheimer’s dementia. Identifying MCI individuals with high likelihood of conversion to dementia and the associated biosignatures has recently received increasing attention in AD research. Different biosignatures for AD (neuroimaging, demographic, genetic and cognitive measures) may contain complementary information for diagnosis and prognosis of AD.
We have conducted a comprehensive study using a large number of samples from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) to test the power of integrating various baseline data for predicting the conversion from MCI to probable AD and identifying a small subset of biosignatures for the prediction and assess the relative importance of different modalities in predicting MCI to AD conversion. We have employed sparse logistic regression with stability selection for the integration and selection of potential predictors. Our study differs from many of the other ones in three important respects: (1) we use a large cohort of MCI samples that are unbiased with respect to age or education status between case and controls (2) we integrate and test various types of baseline data available in ADNI including MRI, demographic, genetic and cognitive measures and (3) we apply sparse logistic regression with stability selection to ADNI data for robust feature selection.
We have used 319 MCI subjects from ADNI that had MRI measurements at the baseline and passed quality control, including 177 MCI Non-converters and 142 MCI Converters. Conversion was considered over the course of a 4-year follow-up period. A combination of 15 features (predictors) including those from MRI scans, APOE genotyping, and cognitive measures achieves the best prediction with an AUC score of 0.8587.
Our results demonstrate the power of integrating various baseline data for prediction of the conversion from MCI to probable AD. Our results also demonstrate the effectiveness of stability selection for feature selection in the context of sparse logistic regression.
This study evaluates the Alzheimer disease risk perceptions of individuals who accurately recall their genetics-based Alzheimer disease risk assessment.
Two hundred forty-six unaffected first-degree relatives of patients with Alzheimer disease were enrolled in a multisite randomized controlled trial examining the effects of communicating APOE genotype and lifetime Alzheimer disease risk information.
Among the 158 participants who accurately recalled their Alzheimer disease risk assessment 6 weeks after risk disclosure, 75 (47.5%) believed their Alzheimer disease risk was more than 5% points different from the Alzheimer disease risk estimate they were given. Within this subgroup, 69.3% believed that their Alzheimer disease risk was higher than what they were told (discordant high), whereas 30.7% believed that their Alzheimer disease risk was lower (discordant low). Participants with a higher baseline risk perception were more likely to have a discordant-high risk perception (P < 0.05). Participants in the discordant-low group were more likely to be APOE ε4 positive (P < 0.05) and to score higher on an Alzheimer disease controllability scale (P < 0.05).
Our results indicate that even among individuals who accurately recall their Alzheimer disease risk assessment, many people do not take communicated risk estimates at face value. Further exploration of this clinically relevant response to risk information is warranted.
risk recall; risk perception; Alzheimer disease; genetic susceptibility testing
Growing evidence suggests that oxidative damage caused by the β-amyloid peptide in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease may be hydrogen peroxide mediated. Many polyphenols, the most abundant dietary antioxidants, possess stronger neuroprotection against hydrogen peroxide than antioxidant vitamins.
We tested whether consumption of fruit and vegetable juices, containing a high concentration of polyphenols, decreases the risk of incident probable Alzheimer’s disease in the Kame Project cohort, a population-based prospective study of 1836 Japanese Americans in King County, Washington, who were dementia-free at baseline (1992–1994) and were followed through 2001.
After adjustment for potential confounders, the hazard ratio for probable Alzheimer’s disease was 0.24 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.09–0.61) comparing subjects who drank juices at least 3 times per week with those who drank less often than once per week with a hazard ratio of 0.84 (95% CI, 0.31–2.29) for those drinking juices 1 to 2 times per week (P for trend < .01). This inverse association tended to be more pronounced among those with an apolipoprotein Eε-4 allele and those who were not physically active. Conversely, no association was observed for dietary intake of vitamins E, C, or β- carotene or tea consumption.
Fruit and vegetable juices may play an important role in delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, particularly among those who are at high risk for the disease. These results may lead to a new avenue of inquiry in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
Fruit and vegetable juices; Polyphenols; Antioxidants; Alzheimer’s disease; Epidemiology
Numerous studies show that the pathology of Alzheimer's disease is present decades before a clinical diagnosis of dementia can be made. Given the likelihood that agents will become available that reliably delay onset and/or slow progression of Alzheimer's disease, it will be important to detect preclinical Alzheimer's disease as early as possible for maximal treatment effect. Detection of individuals by sensitive cognitive measures provides one way to identify people who are at high risk of developing clinical Alzheimer's disease. However, it is likely that those with considerable brain or cognitive reserve will be able to mask cognitive deficits until very close to the onset of the dementia, rendering such cognitive measures insensitive. Optimum biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease therefore need to target the severity of underlying brain pathology independently of brain reserve. Findings are presented showing the importance of higher education and larger brain size in masking the underlying disease pathology.
Alzheimer's disease; biomarkers; prevention
Health-related direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing has been a controversial practice. Especially problematic is predictive testing for Alzheimer disease (AD), since the disease is incurable, prevention is inconclusive, and testing does not definitively predict an individual’s future disease status. In this paper, I examine two contrasting cases of subjects who learn through genetic testing that they have an elevated risk of developing AD later in life. In these cases, the subject’s emotional response to the result is related to how well prepared she was for the real-life personal implications of possible test results. Analysis leads to the conclusion that when groups of health-related genetic tests are offered as packages by DTC companies, informed consumer choice is rendered impossible. Moreover, I argue, this marketing approach contravenes U.S. Federal Trade Commission policies for non-deceptive commercial communications. I conclude by suggesting ways to improve the prospects for informed consumer choice in DTC testing.
direct-to-consumer genetic testing; APOE; informed consent
Despite the potential of the internet for informing clinical practice, little is know about physicians’ use of and attitudes about internet use for dementia care. We surveyed 373 physicians to inform development of on-line dementia education resources. Two thirds reported using internet-based resources in their clinical practices at least three times per week; 61% participated in on-line continuing medical education. Three fourths agreed that internet-based resources are helpful in clinical care but most expressed mixed views about quality of available information. Respondents reported limited awareness and use of dementia-specific internet resources, but expressed an interest in such information regarding screening, treatment, community resources, and patient education. National Institute on Aging-funded Alzheimer’s Disease Centers are in a unique position to disseminate on-line resources for physicians on dementia diagnosis, treatment, and care. Our study suggests that such a resource would be well received and utilized by physicians.
Alzheimer’s disease; Internet; Medical Education
The objective of this paper is to understand how the public's beliefs in five countries may change as more families have direct experience with Alzheimer's disease. The data are derived from a questionnaire survey conducted by telephone (landline and cell) with 2678 randomly selected adults in France, Germany, Poland, Spain, and the United States. The paper analyzes the beliefs and anticipated behavior of those in each country who report having had a family member with Alzheimer's disease versus those who do not. In one or more countries, differences were found between the two groups in their concern about getting Alzheimer's disease, knowledge that the disease is fatal, awareness of certain symptoms, and support for increased public spending. The results suggest that as more people have experience with a family member who has Alzheimer's disease, the public will generally become more concerned about Alzheimer's disease and more likely to recognize that Alzheimer's disease is a fatal disease. The findings suggest that other beliefs may only be affected if there are future major educational campaigns about the disease. The publics in individual countries, with differing cultures and health systems, are likely to respond in different ways as more families have experience with Alzheimer's disease.
Therapeutic strategies in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) must take into account the characteristics of elderly people, who often have somatic comorbidities. Moreover, demented patients are more frequently frailer than older people. They have a higher number of admissions to hospital, a greater prevalence of complications and an increased risk of death. Therapeutic decisions for these patients have to be approached cautiously: aging, a more elevated comorbidity/polytherapy index and frailty contribute to enhance the risk of pharmacological adverse events and drug interactions. The aim of the present study was to focus on risk–benefit profile of pharmacological therapy for AD in relation to somatic comorbidities that often affect these patients. A Medline search (from 2001 to 2012) was performed using as key words dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, drug treatment, somatic comorbidities, side effects/adverse events and elderly. Cholinesterase inhibitors (ChEIs) and memantine represent the main pharmacological strategies effective in reducing the progression of cognitive decline and functional loss in AD. Many conditions very common in the elderly may restrict the use of ChEIs and/or treatment efficacy in AD patients. Memantine has a good efficacy and tolerability profile with better safety in pulmonary, cardiovascular and central nervous system comorbidities compared to ChEIs. Drug interactions with memantine are also more favorable since they concern mostly drugs not commonly used in the elderly. Only a careful evaluation of the associated somatic diseases, taking into account different drugs safety indexes and tolerability, can lead to personalized treatment management, in order to maximize drug efficacy and optimize quality of life.
Dementia; Alzheimer’s disease; Drug treatment; Somatic comorbidities; Side effects/adverse events; Elderly
Varying perspectives exist regarding the implications of genetic susceptibility testing for common disease, with some anticipating adverse effects and others expecting positive outcomes; however, little is known about the characteristics of people who are most likely to be interested in direct-to-consumer genetic testing. To that end, this study examines the association of individual dispositional differences with health risk perceptions and online information seeking related to a free genetic susceptibility test. Healthy adults enrolled in a large health maintenance organization were surveyed by telephone. Eligible participants (N = 1,959) were given access to a secure website that provided risk and benefit information about a genetic susceptibility test and given the option to be tested. Neuroticism was associated with increased perceptions of disease risk but not with logging on. Those scoring high in conscientiousness were more likely to log on. We found no evidence that neuroticism, a dispositional characteristic commonly linked to adverse emotional response, was predictive of online genetic information seeking in this sample of healthy adults.
Direct-to-consumer genetic tests; Information seeking; Perceived risk; Individual differences
Several modifiable health and lifestyle factors are consistently associated with dementia risk and it is estimated that significantly fewer people would develop dementia if the incidence of risk factors could be reduced. Despite this, Australians’ awareness of the health and lifestyle factors associated with dementia risk is low. Within a national community education campaign, Alzheimer’s Australia developed a dementia risk reduction website providing information about modifiable risk or protective factors for dementia.
This study aimed to assess the usefulness of the website content in improving knowledge and enabling adoption of recommended strategies, and to examine what additional resources consumers need.
Visitors to the website over a 3 month period were invited to complete an online survey, which asked them to rate their knowledge of dementia risk reduction before and after visiting the site, how important monitoring their health related behavior was to them before and after visiting the site, their current behavior related to health and lifestyle factors associated with dementia risk, their intentions to change behavior, and the usefulness of potential additional resources to help them do so.
For this study, 123 Australian adults responded to the survey. 44.7% (55/122) were aged over 60 and 82.1% (98/119) were female. Respondents’ ratings and comments indicated they generally found the content interesting, informative, and helpful to them. Respondents’ ratings of their knowledge about the links between health and lifestyle factors and dementia risk significantly increased after visiting the website (P<.001). Their ratings of how important monitoring what they do in relation to their health and lifestyle factors were also significantly increased after visiting the website (P<.001). Average ratings for how well respondents felt they were doing at the time in relation to specific risk or protective factors were generally high, suggesting many website visitors already had high levels of health motivation and healthy lifestyle behaviors. 55.6% (45/81) said that after visiting the website their intention to make lifestyle changes was strong. Only 27.1% (22/81) said their intention to visit their doctor to discuss dementia risk reduction was strong. Potential additional resources that would help people assess and address their personal dementia risk factors were rated as more helpful than general information resources.
A dementia risk reduction website providing information about the current evidence and practical strategies was of interest and was useful to the Australian community. Benefits for visitors included increased knowledge and increased motivation to address relevant behaviors. Many visitors to the site were already health conscious, indicating that more needs to be done to get dementia risk reduction messages to the wider community. More interactive and personalized resources in future interventions may offer additional benefits to individuals.
dementia; Alzheimer's disease; risk reduction behavior; health communication; evaluation studies
Fibrillar amyloid-β (Aβ) is thought to begin accumulating in the brain many years before the onset of clinical impairment in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. By assessing the accumulation of Aβ in people at risk of genetic forms of Alzheimer’s disease, we can identify how early preclinical changes start in individuals certain to develop dementia later in life. We sought to characterise the age-related accumulation of Aβ deposition in presenilin 1 (PSEN1) E280A mutation carriers across the spectrum of preclinical disease.
Between Aug 1 and Dec 6, 2011, members of the familial Alzheimer’s disease Colombian kindred aged 18–60 years were recruited from the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative’s registry at the University of Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia. Cross-sectional assessment using florbetapir PET was done in symptomatic mutation carriers with mild cognitive impairment or mild dementia, asymptomatic carriers, and asymptomatic non-carriers. These assessments were done at the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix, AZ, USA. A cortical grey matter mask consisting of six predefined regions. was used to measure mean cortical florbetapir PET binding. Cortical-to-pontine standard-uptake value ratios were used to characterise the cross-sectional accumulation of fibrillar Aβ deposition in carriers and non-carriers with regression analysis and to estimate the trajectories of fibrillar Aβ deposition.
We enrolled a cohort of 11 symptomatic individuals, 19 presymptomatic mutation carriers, and 20 asymptomatic non-carriers, ranging in age from 20 to 56 years. There was greater florbetapir binding in asymptomatic PSEN1 E280A mutation carriers than in age matched non-carriers. Fibrillar Aβ began to accumulate in PSEN 1E280A mutation carriers at a mean age of 28·2 years (95% CI 27·3–33·4), about 16 years and 21 years before the predicted median ages at mild cognitive impairment and dementia onset, respectively. 18F florbetapir binding rose steeply over the next 9·4 years and plateaued at a mean age of 37·6 years (95% CI 35·3–40·2), about 6 and 11 years before the expected respective median ages at mild cognitive impairment and dementia onset. Prominent florbetapir binding was seen in the anterior and posterior cingulate, precuneus, and parietotemporal and frontal grey matter, as well as in the basal ganglia. Binding in the basal ganglia was not seen earlier or more prominently than in other regions.
These findings contribute to the understanding of preclinical familial Alzheimer’s disease and help set the stage for assessment of amyloid-modifying treatments in the prevention of familial Alzheimer’s disease.
Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, Banner Alzheimer’s Foundation, Nomis Foundation, Anonymous Foundation, Forget Me Not Initiative, Colciencias, National Institute on Aging, and the State of Arizona.
Sequence variants, including the ε4 allele of apolipoprotein E, have been associated with the risk of the common late-onset form of Alzheimer’s disease. Few rare variants affecting the risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease have been found.
We obtained the genome sequences of 2261 Icelanders and identified sequence variants that were likely to affect protein function. We imputed these variants into the genomes of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and control participants and then tested for an association with Alzheimer’s disease. We performed replication tests using case–control series from the United States, Norway, the Netherlands, and Germany. We also tested for a genetic association with cognitive function in a population of unaffected elderly persons.
A rare missense mutation (rs75932628-T) in the gene encoding the triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2 (TREM2), which was predicted to result in an R47H substitution, was found to confer a significant risk of Alzheimer’s disease in Iceland (odds ratio, 2.92; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.09 to 4.09; P = 3.42×10−10). The mutation had a frequency of 0.46% in controls 85 years of age or older. We observed the association in additional sample sets (odds ratio, 2.90; 95% CI, 2.16 to 3.91; P = 2.1×10−12 in combined discovery and replication samples). We also found that carriers of rs75932628-T between the ages of 80 and 100 years without Alzheimer’s disease had poorer cognitive function than noncarriers (P = 0.003).
Our findings strongly implicate variant TREM2 in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. Given the reported antiinflammatory role of TREM2 in the brain, the R47H substitution may lead to an increased predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease through impaired containment of inflammatory processes. (Funded by the National Institute on Aging and others.)
Comprehensive, longitudinal neuropsychological assessments are reported in a person "at risk" from autosomal dominant, necropsy confirmed familial Alzheimer's disease. The first assessment showed a moderately selective verbal memory deficit in the context of mild general intellectual impairment. Subsequent testing showed the progressive deterioration of visual memory and a mild decline of perceptual and spatial skills. Language and literacy skills, however, remained comparatively intact. The neuropsychological profiles obtained at each assessment are presented in profile maps. These permit direct longitudinal comparison of cognitive function, and may serve in the comparison of different potential cases of familial Alzheimer's disease. This case sought medical attention for memory difficulties 26 months after the first neuropsychological assessment. These results mark the first cognitive manifestations in a pedigree with familial Alzheimer's disease which, in this case, were seen presymptomatically. The findings are discussed in relation to neuropsychological studies of affected cases, and in terms of their reflecting the heterogeneous nature of familial Alzheimer's disease.