Attentional deficits are frequently seen in isolation as the presenting sign and symptom of neurodegenerative disease, manifest as mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Persistent ADHD in the geriatric population could well be misconstrued as MCI, leading to the incorrect assumption that such persons are succumbing to a neurodegenerative disease process. Alternatively, the molecular, neuroanatomic, or neurochemical abnormalities seen in ADHD may contribute to the development of de novo late life neurodegenerative disease. The present review examines the issue of causality vs confound regarding the association of ADHD with MCI, suggesting that both are tenable hypotheses.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; ADHD; Adult ADHD; Older adults; Mild cognitive impairment; MCI; Alzheimer’s disease; Parkinson’s disease; Dementia with Lewy bodies; DLB; Frontotemporal dementia; FTD; Genetics; Neurotransmitter systems; Neuroimaging; Pathogenesis; Treatment
In the present study we aimed to determine the prevalence of C9ORF72 GGGGCC hexanucleotide expansion in our cohort of 53 FTLD patients and 174 neurologically normal controls. We identified the hexanucleotide repeat, in the pathogenic range, in 4 (2 bv-FTD and 2 FTD-ALS) out of 53 patients and one neurologically normal control. Interestingly, two of the C9ORF72 expansion carriers also carried two novel missense mutations in GRN (Y294C) and in PSEN-2 (I146V). Further, one of the C9ORF72 expansion carriers, for whom pathology was available, showed amyloid plaques and tangles in addition to TDP-43 pathology. In summary, our findings suggest that the hexanucleotide expansion is probably associated with ALS, FTD or FTD-ALS and occasional comorbid conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. These findings are novel and need to be cautiously interpreted and most importantly replicated in larger numbers of samples.
FTLD; bv-FTD; FTD-ALS; C9ORF72; GRN; PSEN-2; Alzheimer’s disease
Chronic inflammation in periodontal disease has been suggested as a potential risk factor in Alzheimer’s disease. The purpose of this study was to examine serum antibody levels to bacteria of periodontal disease in participants who eventually converted to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) compared to the antibody levels in control subjects.
Serum from 158 participants in the BRAINS (Biologically Resilient Adults in Neurological Studies) research program at the University of Kentucky were analyzed for IgG antibody levels to 7 oral bacteria associated with periodontitis including: Aggregati-bacter actinomycetemcomitans, Porphyromonas gingivalis, Campylobacter rectus, Tre-ponema denticola, Fusobacterium nucleatum, Tannerella forsythia, and Prevotella intermedia. All 158 participants were cognitively intact at baseline venous blood draw. Eighty one of the participants developed either mild-cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alz-heimer’s disease (AD) or both, and 77 controls remained cognitively intact in the years of follow up. Antibody levels were compared between controls and AD subjects at baseline draw and after conversion and controls and MCI subjects at baseline draw and after conversion using the Wilcoxon rank-sum test. AD and MCI participants were not directly compared. Linear regression models were used to adjust for potential confounding.
Antibody levels to F. nucleatum and P. intermedia, were significantly increased (α = 0.05) at baseline serum draw in the AD patients compared to controls. These results remained significant when controlling for baseline age, Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) score and apolipoprotein epsilon 4 (APOE ε4) status.
This study provides initial data that demonstrate elevated antibodies to periodontal disease bacteria in subjects years prior cognitive impairment and suggests that periodontal disease could potentially contribute to the risk of AD onset/progression. Additional cohort studies profiling oral clinical presentation with systemic response and AD and prospective studies to evaluate any cause-and-effect association are warranted.
Alzheimer’s disease; periodontitis; antibody; periodontal bacteria; periodon-tal disease; mild cognitive impairment
Risk factors for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia are often investigated without accounting for the competing risk of mortality, which can bias results and lead to spurious conclusions, particularly regarding protective factors. Here, we apply a semi-Markov modeling approach to 531 participants in the University of Kentucky Biologically Resilient Adults in Neurological Studies (BRAiNS) longitudinal cohort, over one-third of whom died without transitioning to a cognitively impaired clinical state. A semi-Markov approach enables a statistical study of clinical state transitions while accounting for the competing risk of death and facilitates insights into both the odds that a risk factor will affect clinical transitions as well as the age at which the transition to MCI or dementia will occur. Risk factors assessed in the current study were identified by matching those reported in the literature with the data elements collected on participants. The presence of Type II diabetes at baseline shortens the time it takes cognitively intact individuals to transition to MCI by seven years on average while use of estrogen replacement therapy at enrollment (baseline) decreases the time required to convert from MCI to dementia by 1.5 years. Finally, smoking and being overweight do not promote transitions to impaired states but instead hasten death without a dementia. In contrast, conventional statistical analyses based on Cox proportional hazards models fail to recognize diabetes as a risk and show that being overweight increases the risk of clinical MCI while high blood pressure at baseline increases the risk of a dementia.
MCI; dementia; multi-state models; semi-Markov; risk factors; competing events
There is an urgent need to identify non-invasive biomarkers for the detection of sporadic Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We previously studied microRNAs (miRNAs) in AD autopsy brain samples and reported a connection between miR-137, -181c, -9, -29a/b and AD, through the regulation of ceramides. In this study, the potential role of these miRNAs as diagnostic markers for AD was investigated. We identified that these miRNAs were down-regulated in the blood serum of probable AD patients. The levels of these miRNAs were also reduced in the serum of AD risk factor models. Although the ability of these miRNAs to conclusively diagnose for AD is currently unknown, our findings suggest a potential use for circulating miRNAs, along with other markers, as non-invasive and relatively inexpensive biomarkers for the early diagnosis of AD, however, with further research and validation.
Alzheimer’s disease; microRNA; blood serum
To evaluate whether antioxidant supplements presumed to target specific cellular compartments affected cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers.
Double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.
Academic medical centers.
Subjects with mild to moderate Alzheimer disease.
Random assignment to treatment for 16 weeks with 800 IU/d of vitamin E (α-tocopherol) plus 500 mg/d of vitamin C plus 900 mg/d of α-lipoic acid (E/C/ALA); 400 mg of coenzyme Q 3 times/d; or placebo.
Main Outcome Measures
Changes from baseline to 16 weeks in CSF biomarkers related to Alzheimer disease and oxidative stress, cognition (Mini-Mental State Examination), and function (Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study Activities of Daily Living Scale).
Seventy-eight subjects were randomized; 66 provided serial CSF specimens adequate for biochemical analyses. Study drugs were well tolerated, but accelerated decline in Mini-Mental State Examination scores occurred in the E/C/ALA group, a potential safety concern. Changes in CSF Aβ42, tau, and P-tau181 levels did not differ between the 3 groups. Cerebrospinal fluid F2-isoprostane levels, an oxidative stress biomarker, decreased on average by 19% from baseline to week 16 in the E/C/ALA group but were unchanged in the other groups.
Antioxidants did not influence CSF biomarkers related to amyloid or tau pathology. Lowering of CSF F2-isoprostane levels in the E/C/ALA group suggests reduction of oxidative stress in the brain. However, this treatment raised the caution of faster cognitive decline, which would need careful assessment if longer-term clinical trials are conducted.
clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00117403
Clinicopathologic correlation studies are critically important for the field of Alzheimer disease (AD) research. Studies on human subjects with autopsy confirmation entail numerous potential biases that affect both their general applicability and the validity of the correlations. Many sources of data variability can weaken the apparent correlation between cognitive status and AD neuropathologic changes. Indeed, most persons in advanced old age have significant non-AD brain lesions that may alter cognition independently of AD. Worldwide research efforts have evaluated thousands of human subjects to assess the causes of cognitive impairment in the elderly, and these studies have been interpreted in different ways. We review the literature focusing on the correlation of AD neuropathologic changes (i.e. β-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles) with cognitive impairment. We discuss the various patterns of brain changes that have been observed in elderly individuals to provide a perspective for understanding AD clinicopathologic correlation and conclude that evidence from many independent research centers strongly supports the existence of a specific disease, as defined by the presence of Aβ plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Although Aβ plaques may play a key role in AD pathogenesis, the severity of cognitive impairment correlates best with the burden of neocortical neurofibrillary tangles.
Aging; Alzheimer disease; Amyloid; Dementia; Epidemiology; Neuropathology; MAPT; Neurofibrillary tangles
There are no currently Food and Drug Administration-approved or proven off-label treatments for the frontotemporal dementias (FTD). Clinicians, care-givers, and patients struggle regularly to find therapeutic regimens that can alleviate the problematic behavioral and cognitive symptoms associated with these devastating conditions. Success is “hit or miss” and the lessons learned are largely anecdotal to date. Drug discovery in this area has been largely hampered by the heterogeneous clinical presentations and pathological phenotypes of disease that represent significant obstacles to progress in this area. Biologically, plausible treatment strategies include the use of antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitor and monoamine oxidase inhibitors), acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, N-methyl-D-aspartic acid antagonists, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, stimulants, antihypertensives, and agents that may ameliorate the symptoms of parkinsonism, pseudobulbar affect, and motor neuron disease that can often coexist with FTD. These medications all carry potential risks as well as possible benefits for the person suffering from FTD, and a clear understanding of these factors is critical in selecting an appropriate therapeutic regimen to maximize cognition and daily functions, reduce behavioral symptoms, and alleviate caregiver burden in an individual patient. The role of the caregiver in tracking and reporting of symptoms and the effects of individual therapeutic interventions is pivotal in this process. This manuscript highlights the importance of establishing an effective therapeutic partnership between the physician and caregiver in the medical management of the person suffering from FTD.
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD); Treatment; Caregiver
Cognitively intact elderly research volunteers at the University of Kentucky have been recruited, followed longitudinally, and autopsied with extensive neuropathological evaluations since 1989. To date, the cohort has recruited 1,030 individuals with 552 participants being actively followed, 363 deceased, and 273 autopsied. An extensive database has been constructed with continuous updates that include textured clinical, neuropsychological, neuroimaging, and pathological information. The history, demographics, clinical observations, and pathological features of this research cohort are described. We also explain some of the evolving methodologies and the academic contributions that have been made due to this motivated group of older Kentuckians.
Aging; Alzheimer’s; autopsy; brain; dementia; Lewy bodies; longitudinal; neuropathology; neurocognition; neuritic plaques; neurofibrillary tangles
The National Institute on Aging Preclinical Alzheimer’s disease Workgroup (PADW) has issued a preliminary report with recommendations for classifying preclinical Alzheimer’s disease (pAD) according to 3 early disease stages. Here we examine the PADW recommendations in relation to neuropathological features in a large, consecutive series of cognitively intact elderly persons, autopsied within a year after cognitive testing (n = 126 cognitively intact patients with mean age 83.7 years at death). Subjects were grouped based on a hypothetical construct correlating pathological features with PADW stages. Many cognitively intact individuals were classifiable as pAD (53/126 or 43%), as expected based on epidemiological and biomarker studies. Of these, most (48%) were in “stage 3”, which corresponds to amyloid pathology with early neurodegeneration. As with prior studies, our data indicate that the development of neocortical neurofibrillary tangles is the key pathological event that is not observed in pAD cases: Braak stages III or IV pathology are hence not truly a substrate for “intermediate likelihood” that cognitive impairment is due to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We also stress the importance of comorbid non-Alzheimer’s disease brain pathologies (hippocampal sclerosis, neocortical alpha-synucleinopathy, cerebrovascular disease, and brains with hippocampal neurofibrillary tangles but no cortical amyloid plaques) that can contribute to the development of cognitive impairment, or which may serve as confounds in the application of the PADW recommendations. While the final recommendations from the PADW working group have not yet been released, this preliminary analysis provides a perspective on those recommendations from a neuropathological point of view.
Nondemented; Biomarkers; MRI; CSF; Preclinical; Neuropathology; Normal
Preclinical Alzheimer’s disease (pAD) reflects neuropathological findings of AD in cognitively normal subjects. The present study represents an effort to determine if differences could be identified in the longitudinal patterns of cognitive performance in persons classified as pAD compared to those who did not meet criteria for AD at autopsy. We included 121 subjects who were cognitively normal from baseline through their last assessment before death and who underwent autopsy. Participants were classified into two groups: pathologically normal (PN; NIA-Reagan low or no-likelihood of AD, n=89) and preclinical AD (pAD; NIA-Reagan criteria of intermediate or high-likelihood of AD in the absence of clinical dementia symptoms, n=32) followed for a mean 7.5 years prior to death. Longitudinal rates and patterns of change in scores on a standard cognitive battery were compared between these two groups. While cognitive results at baseline and last evaluations revealed no clear cross sectional group differences after adjustment for age, APOE status, education, and gender, statistically significant differences between the pAD and PN groups in slope of decline were seen on a composite score of cognitive function. Further analyses showed three components of this score reached significance: constructional praxis, delayed recall of a word list, and category verbal fluency. Despite being clinically viewed as normal at enrollment and at the final exam, there are significant differences in rates of cognitive decline in participants classified as pAD compared to those without this pathology. Longitudinal changes in slope of decline in specific cognitive test measures can serve as non-invasive methods for the detection of pAD.
Alzheimer’s disease; cognition; normal; preclinical
Hippocampal sclerosis is a relatively common neuropathological finding (∼10% of individuals over the age of 85 years) characterized by cell loss and gliosis in the hippocampus that is not explained by Alzheimer’s disease. Hippocampal sclerosis pathology can be associated with different underlying causes, and we refer to hippocampal sclerosis in the aged brain as hippocampal sclerosis associated with ageing. Much remains unknown about hippocampal sclerosis associated with ageing. We combined three different large autopsy cohorts: University of Kentucky Alzheimer’s Disease Centre, the Nun Study and the Georgia Centenarian Study to obtain a pool of 1110 patients, all of whom were evaluated neuropathologically at the University of Kentucky. We focused on the subset of cases with neuropathology-confirmed hippocampal sclerosis (n = 106). For individuals aged ≥95 years at death (n = 179 in our sample), each year of life beyond the age of 95 years correlated with increased prevalence of hippocampal sclerosis pathology and decreased prevalence of ‘definite’ Alzheimer’s disease pathology. Aberrant TAR DNA protein 43 immunohistochemistry was seen in 89.9% of hippocampal sclerosis positive patients compared with 9.7% of hippocampal sclerosis negative patients. TAR DNA protein 43 immunohistochemistry can be used to demonstrate that the disease is usually bilateral even when hippocampal sclerosis pathology is not obvious by haematoxylin and eosin stains. TAR DNA protein 43 immunohistochemistry was negative on brain sections from younger individuals (n = 10) after hippocampectomy due to seizures, who had pathologically confirmed hippocampal sclerosis. There was no association between cases with hippocampal sclerosis associated with ageing and apolipoprotein E genotype. Age of death and clinical features of hippocampal sclerosis associated with ageing (with or without aberrant TAR DNA protein 43) were distinct from previously published cases of frontotemporal lobar degeneration TAR DNA protein 43. To help sharpen our ability to discriminate patients with hippocampal sclerosis associated with ageing clinically, the longitudinal cognitive profile of 43 patients with hippocampal sclerosis associated with ageing was compared with the profiles of 75 controls matched for age, gender, education level and apolipoprotein E genotype. These individuals were followed from intake assessment, with 8.2 (average) longitudinal cognitive assessments. A neuropsychological profile with relatively high-verbal fluency but low word list recall distinguished the hippocampal sclerosis associated with ageing group at intake (P < 0.015) and also 5.5–6.5 years before death (P < 0.005). This may provide a first step in clinical differentiation of hippocampal sclerosis associated with ageing versus pure Alzheimer’s disease in their earliest stages. In summary, in the largest series of autopsy-verified patients with hippocampal sclerosis to date, we characterized the clinical and pathological features associated with hippocampal sclerosis associated with ageing.
biomarkers; PGRN; epilepsy; FTLD; cerebrovascular; stroke
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) refers to the clinical state between normal cognition and probable Alzheimer's disease (AD), but persons diagnosed with MCI may progress to non-AD forms of dementia, remain MCI until death, or recover to normal cognition. Risk factors for these various clinical changes, which we term “transitions,” may provide targets for therapeutic interventions. Therefore, it is useful to develop new approaches to assess risk factors for these transitions. Markov models have been used to investigate the transient nature of MCI represented by amnestic single-domain and mixed MCI states, where mixed MCI comprised all other MCI subtypes based on cognitive assessments. The purpose of this study is to expand this risk model by including a clinically determined MCI state as an outcome. Analyses show that several common risk factors play different roles in affecting transitions to MCI and dementia. Notably, APOE-4 increases the risk of transition to clinical MCI but does not affect the risk for a final transition to dementia, and baseline hypertension decreases the risk of transition to dementia from clinical MCI.
There are no US FDA-approved therapies for the management of frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Evidence-based medicine that would support a FDA indication for the treatment of FTD requires large-scale, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials that do not currently exist. Progress in obtaining approval and therapeutic indications for FTD has been severely hampered by the heterogeneity of clinical and pathological phenotypes seen in various FTD disease states. These issues are often misinterpreted by clinicians, caregivers and patients suggesting that potential treatment options are nonexistent for this devastating disease. This article discusses these issues in the context of recent studies and publications investigating therapeutic options in FTD, and further suggests a rationale for individualized therapy in FTD. Targeting the myriad of symptoms seen in FTD requires recognition of such symptoms that may play primary or secondary roles in the spectrum of deficits that lead to functional disability in FTD, and the availability of a wide range of therapeutic options that may be helpful in alleviating such symptomatology. Fortunately, agents targeting the many cognitive, behavioral, psychiatric and motor symptoms that can be seen in FTD are readily available, having been previously developed and approved for symptomatic benefit in other disease states. In contrast to the widespread belief that beneficial treatments are not available for FTD today, our therapeutic armament is stocked with pharmacological tools that may improve quality of life for those suffering from this devastating and incurable class of degenerative diseases.
Human studies are reviewed concerning whether “aging”-related mechanisms contribute to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathogenesis. AD is defined by specific neuropathology: neuritic amyloid plaques and neocortical neurofibrillary tangles. AD pathology is driven by genetic factors related not to aging per se, but instead to the amyloid precursor protein (APP). In contrast to genes involved in APP-related mechanisms, there is no firm connection between genes implicated in human “accelerated aging” diseases (progerias) and AD. The epidemiology of AD in advanced age is highly relevant but deceptively challenging to address given the low autopsy rates in most countries. In extreme old age, brain diseases other than AD approximate AD prevalence while the impact of AD pathology appears to peak by age 95 and decline thereafter. Many distinct brain diseases other than AD afflict older human brains and contribute to cognitive impairment. Additional prevalent pathologies include cerebrovascular disease and hippocampal sclerosis, both high-morbidity brain diseases that appear to peak in incidence later than AD chronologically. Because of these common brain diseases of extreme old age, the epidemiology differs between clinical “dementia” and the subset of dementia cases with AD pathology. Additional aging-associated mechanisms for cognitive decline such as diabetes and synapse loss have been linked to AD and these hypotheses are discussed. Criteria are proposed to define an “aging-linked” disease, and AD fails all of these criteria. In conclusion, it may be most fruitful to focus attention on specific pathways involved in AD rather than attributing it to an inevitable consequence of aging.
Among individuals who were cognitively intact before death, autopsies may reveal some Alzheimer's disease-type pathology. The presence of end-stage pathology in cognitively intact persons would support the hypothesis that pathological markers are epiphenomena. We assessed advanced neurofibrillary (Braak stages V and VI) pathology focusing on nondemented individuals. Data from the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center database (n = 4,690 included initially) and from the Nun Study (n = 526 included initially) were analyzed, with antemortem information about global cognition and careful postmortem studies available from each case. Global cognition (final Mini-Mental State Examination scores [MMSE] and clinical ‘dementia’ status) was correlated with neuropathology, including the severity of neurofibrillary pathology (Braak stages and neurofibrillary tangle counts in cerebral neocortex). Analyses support three major findings: 1. Braak stage V cases and Braak VI cases are significantly different from each other in terms of associated antemortem cognition; 2. There is an appreciable range of pathology within the category of Braak stage VI based on tangle counts such that brains with the most neurofibrillary tangles in neocortex always had profound antemortem cognitive impairment; and 3. There was no nondemented case with final MMSE score of 30 within a year of life and Braak stage VI pathology. It may be inappropriate to combine Braak stages V and VI cases, particularly in patients with early cognitive dysfunction, since the two pathological stages appear to differ dramatically in terms of both pathological severity and antemortem cognitive status. There is no documented example of truly end-stage neurofibrillary pathology coexisting with intact cognition.
GRN; miRNA; microRNA; neurofibrillary tangles; neuropathology
Sex-linked factors may alter risk for neurodegenerative diseases. Definitive diagnoses are not established until autopsy, so neuropathological studies are critical. There have not been reported gender-related differences in neocortical Lewy bodies (LBs) using large multi-center autopsy series. We evaluated the associations between gender and pathologically characterized neurodegenerative diseases. Cases with Alzheimer's disease (AD), neocortical LBs, AD + neocortical LBs, or neither pathology were evaluated as separate groups. Results were corrected for possible confounders including age at death, smoking history, and education. The settings were the University of Kentucky Alzheimer's Disease Center and the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center (NACC) Registry autopsy series; 3,830 subjects met inclusion criteria. Patients with neocortical (“diffuse”) or intermediate (“limbic”) LB pathologies tended to be male (male:female odds ratios ∼2.9 with 95% CI 2.02–4.18). The preponderance of males dying with neocortical LB pathology was seen consistently across age groups and was not due to the potential confounders evaluated. By contrast, individuals dying with AD pathology were more likely to be female if dying over 80 (male:female odds ratio 0.66, 95% CI 0.50–0.88), but that tendency was not seen in individuals dying with AD pathology prior to age 80. Increased understanding of the male predominance in neocortical LB pathology may help guide clinicians, because males are more likely to be “undercalled” for neocortical LBs clinically, and females are more likely to be “overcalled” (P < 0.05 for both). Males are far more likely than females to die with neocortical LB pathology. This phenomenon may help guide medical practice including clinical trial study design.
DLB; Synuclein; Human; Dementia; Neuropathology
There is uncertainty regarding the association of cognitive decline in Alzheimer disease (AD) with classic histopathologic features—neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) and “neuritic” amyloid plaques (NPs). This uncertainty fuels doubts about the diagnostic importance of NFTs and NPs and leads to confusion regarding hypotheses of AD pathogenesis. Three hundred ninety subjects who underwent longitudinal premortem clinical workup and postmortem quantitative neuropathologic assessment served as the group to address this issue. Subjects with concomitant brain disease(s) were analyzed independently to more accurately assess the contribution of distinct pathologies to cognitive decline. More than 60% of patients of all age groups had important non-AD brain pathologies. However, subjects without superimposed brain diseases showed strong correlations between AD-type pathology counts (NFTs > NPs) and premortem Mini-Mental State Examination scores. The observed correlation was stronger in isocortex than in allocortex and was maintained across age groups including patients older than 90 years. A theoretical model is proposed in which our results are interpreted to support the “amyloid cascade hypothesis” of AD pathogenesis. Our data show that there are many important contributory causes to cognitive decline in older persons. However, NFTs and NPs should not be dismissed as irrelevant in AD based on clinicopathologic correlation.
Alzheimer disease; Amyloid; Cerebrovascular; Neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs); Plaques
Over the past several decades our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has seen an evolution from the dichotomous concept of normal versus AD in the dementia state to a more accurate and complete appreciation of AD as a progressive disorder with clinical, biological, and pathological features occurring along a continuum from normal to end-stage disease. Integrating our understanding of the relationships and interplay between the clinical, biological, and pathological features of AD may allow the identification of AD at even preclinical, completely asymptomatic stages of the disease. This review attempts to summarize the clinical stages of AD in terms of epidemiology, historical evolution of disease stage diagnoses, cognitive/neuropsychologic features, psychiatric/behavioral manifestations, and functional decline in the context of our developing understanding of the biological processes responsible for the pathogenesis of AD described in detail in the accompanying articles.
Alzheimer’s disease; mild cognitive impairment; Preclinical AD; clinical features
Brains that have many neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) in medial temporal lobe structures (Braak Stages III or IV) but no cortical neuritic plaques (NPs) may be a diagnostic dilemma; they also raise questions about the “amyloid cascade hypothesis” of Alzheimer disease (AD) in which NFT development is thought to occur downstream of the development of amyloid plaques. To determine the clinical, demographic, and biological factors related to NFT+/NP− cases, we analyzed 26 NFT+/NP− patient brains identified from the University of Kentucky AD Center autopsy cohort (n = 502); most of these patients were at least 85 years old and lacked profound antemortem cognitive impairment. A subset of the cases had neurofibrillary tangles in the medulla oblongata. Aberrant TAR-DNA binding protein-43 immunohistochemical staining was seen in 5 of the 26 cases with the clinical diagnoses of AD or mild cognitive impairment. We also queried cases in the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center Registry (n = 5,108) and found 219 NFT+/NP− cases. Those patients had a relatively high likelihood of belonging to a birth cohort with the highest incidence of influenza infection during the 1918–1919 pandemic. This observation may link the pathogenesis in NFT+/NP− cases to encephalitis during childhood. We conclude that NFT+/NP- cases comprise approximately 5% of aged individuals in multiple data sets; these cases are not necessarily within the spectrum of AD.
Alzheimer disease; Amyloid; CERAD; Neurofibrillary tangle, Postencephalitic; tau
We evaluated the association between mini-mental status examination (MMSE) scores proximal to death and the values of 43 different clinical and pathological parameters. Studies were performed using data from 334 elderly, longitudinally evaluated research subjects who had undergone autopsy and satisfied inclusion criteria from an initial study group of 501. Interindividual variance in MMSE scores was used as a surrogate for the severity of cognitive impairment linked to aging (CILA). A statistical linear regression-based model provided a framework for assessing the parameters with significant, direct impact on CILA severity. Strong association between CILA and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology, especially isocortical neurofibrillary tangles, was evident. The pattern of association between AD lesion densities with cognitive impairment severity was biologically informative, with neuritic plaques having more impact in relatively high-functioning individuals. Abundant isocortical Lewy bodies tended to be an additive pathology correlating with final MMSE scores approximately 10 points lower. In a subset of cases we found evidence for association between TDP-43-related pathology and CILA severity, independent of AD or hippocampal sclerosis. There was no support for independent association between CILA severity and most evaluated indices including diffuse plaques, argyrophilic grains, heart disease, education level, apolipoprotein E alleles or diabetes.
ApoE; cognition; human; stroke; DLB; hippocampal sclerosis
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain growth and development. They play an important role throughout life, as critical modulators of neuronal function and regulation of oxidative stress mechanisms, in brain health and disease. Docosahexanoic acid (DHA), the major omega-3 fatty acid found in neurons, has taken on a central role as a target for therapeutic intervention in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). A plethora of in vitro, animal model, and human data, gathered over the past decade, highlight the important role DHA may play in the development of a variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders, including AD. Cross sectional and prospective cohort data have demonstrated that reduced dietary intake or low brain levels of DHA are associated with accelerated cognitive decline or the development of incipient dementia, including AD. Several clinical trials investigating the effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in AD have been completed and all failed to demonstrate its efficacy in the treatment of AD. However, these trials produced intriguing data suggesting that the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may depend on the stage of disease, other dietary mediators, and apolipoprotein E status.
Alzheimer’s disease; omega-3 fatty acids; oxidative stress; clinical studies; treatment
Passive immunization strategies are under widespread investigation as potential disease-modifying therapies for AD. The development of and interest in passive immunization strategies for AD stemmed from a search for safer methods of delivering immunotherapy following the initial results of active vaccination with AN-1792, which led to the development of meningoencephalitis in 6% of vaccinated subjects in this trial. Current approaches based on promising data demonstrating behavioral improvement and reduced pathology in transgenic animal models of AD have focused exclusively on the immune targeting of β-amyloid. Preliminary results from three phase II trials of passive immunization were recently reported at the 2008 International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease suggest both promise and the need to exercise caution with this “safer” method of immunotherapy for AD. The antibody strategies used in each of these trials were distinct, using monoclonal N-terminal, central epitope, and polyclonal strategies in an effort to maximize the efficacy and safety of each approach. The tested compounds are all moving into phase III human trials of mild to moderate AD currently. We anxiously await the exciting discoveries that may come from the currently active phase III studies that may help yield the first disease modifying therapy for AD.
Alzheimer’s disease; passive immunization; amyloid
We studied Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology in the precuneus and surrounding brain areas. Anatomically, the precuneus corresponds to the medial portion of human cerebral cortical Brodmann Area 7. This study utilized patients from the University of Kentucky Alzheimer’s Disease Center autopsy cohort. Data from 47 brains were used comprising patients of differing antemortem cognitive impairment severities, each with longitudinal clinical data and extensive neuropathological data. We assessed whether the precuneus and surrounding areas are differentially vulnerable to AD-type pathological lesions (diffuse amyloid plaques, neuritic amyloid plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles). Eleven areas of brain were evaluated for each case: amygdala, hippocampal CA1, subiculum, entorhinal cortex, frontal cortex, superior and middle temporal gyri, inferior parietal lobule, occipital cortex, posterior cingulate gyrus, Brodmann Area 31, and the precuneus proper. Like other areas of neocortex, the precuneus demonstrated increased diffuse and neuritic amyloid plaques early in the evolution in AD, and increased neurofibrillary tangles late in AD. Correcting for the antemortem cognitive status of the patients, there was no evidence of an increase in the density of AD-type pathology in the precuneus or neighboring areas relative to other areas of cerebral neocortex. Our results are not consistent with the idea that the precuneus is involved in a special way with plaques or tangles relative to other areas of neocortex.
Precuneus; Posterior cingulate; Parietal; MCI; Cognition; Neuropathology; Pathology; Tissue
The success of future neurodegenerative disease (ND) therapies depends partly on accurate antemortem diagnoses. Relatively few prior studies have been performed on large, multicenter-derived datasets to test the accuracy of final clinical ND diagnoses in relation to definitive neuropathological findings. Data were analyzed from the University of Kentucky Alzheimer's Disease Center autopsy series and from the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center (NACC) registry. NACC data are derived from 31 different academic medical centers, each with strong clinical expertise and infrastructure pertaining to NDs. The final clinical diagnoses were compared systematically with subsequent neuropathology diagnoses. Among subjects meeting final inclusion criteria (N = 2,861 for NACC Registry data), the strength of the associations between clinical diagnoses and subsequent ND diagnoses was only moderate. This was particularly true in the case of dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB): the sensitivity of clinical diagnoses was quite low (32.1% for pure DLB and 12.1% for Alzheimer's disease (AD + DLB) although specificity was over 95%. AD clinical diagnoses were more accurate (85.0% sensitivity and 51.1% specificity). The accuracy of clinical DLB diagnoses became somewhat lower over the past decade, due apparently to increased “over-calling” the diagnosis in patients with severe cognitive impairment. Furthermore, using visual hallucinations, extrapyramidal signs, and/or fluctuating cognition as part of the clinical criteria for DLB diagnosis was of minimal utility in a group (N = 237) with high prevalence of severe dementia. Our data suggest that further work is needed to refine our ability to identify specific aging-related brain disease mechanisms, especially in DLB.