AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 2, 2017

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Evidence of Alzheimer's in Patients With Lewy Bodies Disease Tracks With Course of Dementia

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Retrospective Penn study could help guide design of trials for emerging therapies

Patients who had a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease (PD) with dementia (PDD) or dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and had higher levels of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology in their donated post-mortem brains also had more severe symptoms of these Lewy body diseases (LBD) during their lives, compared to those whose brains had less AD pathology, according to research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. In particular, the degree of abnormal tau protein aggregations, indicative of AD, most strongly matched the clinical course of the LBD patients who showed evidence of dementia prior to their deaths. The team used post-mortem brain tissue donated by 213 patients with LBD and associated dementia, which was confirmed during autopsies to have alpha-synuclein pathology. They paired the tissue analysis with the patients’ detailed medical records. This unique study combined data from eight academic memory or movement disorder centers, including the Penn Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center (ADCC) and the Udall Center for Parkinson’s Disease Research.

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