Spread of tau protein measured in brains of Alzheimer's patients.
In a new study presented in Molecular Psychiatry, researchers at Karolinska Institutet have measured how deposits of the pathological protein tau spread through the brain over the course of Alzheimer's disease.
Already in a very early phase of Alzheimer's disease there is an accumulation of tau in the brain cells, where its adverse effect on cell function causes memory impairment.
For the present study, Professor Agneta Nordberg at Karolinska Institutet's Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society and her doctoral student Konstantinos Chiotis along with the rest of her team used PET brain imaging to measure the spread of tau deposits as well as the amyloid plaque associated with Alzheimer's disease, and charted the energy metabolism of the brain cells.
They then examined how these three parameters changed over the course of the disease. "There's been an international race to measure tau spread, and we probably got there first," says Professor Nordberg.
The patients were given a series of neurological memory tests and underwent PET scans at 17-month intervals.
While all 16 participants had abundant amyloid plaque deposition in the brain, the size and speed of spread of their tau deposits differed significantly between individuals.
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Journal Reference: K Chiotis, L Saint-Aubert, E Rodriguez-Vieitez, A Leuzy, O Almkvist, I Savitcheva, M Jonasson, M Lubberink, A Wall, G Antoni, A Nordberg.