A recent study examined whether beta-amyloid growth in cognitively normal older adults who are considered beta-amyloid negative (as opposed to beta-amyloid positive) experience symptoms of cognitive decline. Beta-amyloid is the protein component that forms the amyloid plaques in the brain. Currently, it is known that a beta-amyloid positive status is linked with cognitive decline in cognitively normal adults. However, scientists have set out to learn whether beta-amyloid growth prior to an individual attaining beta-amyloid positivity is associated with memory decline. Based on the results of this study, it was learned that beta-amyloid accumulation in cognitively normal older adults who are beta-amyloid negative resulted in memory deficits for these individuals.
This study looked at 142 cognitively normal older adults who were enrolled in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) and were deemed beta-amyloid negative at baseline. Participants of the study underwent PET scans over a period of 3.9 +/- 1.4 years to determine their levels of beta-amyloid growth. Additionally, they took a neuropsychological test battery at the time of their PET scans. These results yielded composite scores in the domains of memory and executive function.
The researchers discovered that increased beta-amyloid accumulation in these participants corresponded to higher composite score declines in the memory domain. However, there was no relationship found for composite executive function scores. The findings of this study underscore the strong relationship that beta-amyloid accumulation has on the cognitive health of individuals, whether they are considered beta-amyloid positive or beta-amyloid negative. The subsequent changes from amyloid growth pertain to memory deficits.
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Landau, Susan M., et al. “Memory Decline Accompanies Subthreshold Amyloid Accumulation.” Neurology, Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on Behalf of the American Academy of Neurology, 24 Apr. 2018, n.neurology.org/content/90/17/e1452.