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Fingerprints of dementia


Making the call on which type of dementia a person has is crucial to ensuring he gets the proper treatment. Early intervention needs to be correct to see any kind of success. Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy have discovered that dementia leaves a fingerprint in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) so proper diagnosis is much easier to make.

The common forms of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Vascular dementia is caused by a lack of blood flow in the brain. Tiny blood vessels in the brain collapse and prevent circulation. Brain scans can pick up the blood vessel disorder as small infarcts strokes or widespread changes in the white matter. Unfortunately, this small vessel problem is very similar to what happens to the brain with Alzheimer’s so distinguishing between the two is difficult and sometimes impossible.

Since early treatments vary between the two diseases, accurate and timely diagnosis is important to the health of the patient. Researcher Maria Bjerke from the Academy showed in her thesis that the different forms of dementia are detectable as biochemical changes in the cerebrospinal fluid. This is discoverable before symptoms of the dementia appear so early and accurate treatment is possible.

“As the CSF is in direct contact with the brain, its molecular composition can be expected to reflect the brain’s metabolism,” Bjerke stated. “Examining the molecular fingerprints in the CSF enables us to determine whether or not there is an ongoing pathological process.”

Differentiating between types of dementia, mild cognitive disorders versus degenerative dementia, can now be achieved. This should lead to better research and also better treatment options for both groups of people.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, University of Gothenburg

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