AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 2, 2018


Brain Imaging Links Alzheimer's Decline to Tau Protein

Tau is better marker of progression to Alzheimer’s disease than amyloid beta

In most Alzheimer’s disease research, scientists have been studying the accumulation of the protein amyloid beta which can cause plaque buildup that is characteristic with this disease. However, new research has shown that the protein tau may better predict the symptoms of dementia compared to that of amayloid beta. Researchers in the past have had difficulty in regards to imaging tau. A new study, by researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, used a new imaging agent that binds to tau which then makes it visible in positron emission tomography (PET) scans. “Our work and that of others has shown that elevated levels of amyloid beta are the earliest markers of developing Alzheimer’s disease,” said senior author Beau M. Ances, MD, PhD, an associate professor of neurology. “But in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease, even with amyloid buildup, many patients are cognitively normal, meaning their memory and thought processes are still intact. What we suspect is that amyloid changes first and then tau, and it’s the combination of both that tips the patient from being asymptomatic to showing mild cognitive impairment.” To read more, click here.

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