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Trial Could Point the Way to Halt Alzheimer’s Disease

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A collaboration between the Florey Institute and CSIRO has found an association between higher levels of brain iron, the presence of amyloid protein and poorer memory and language skills.

Scientists have long known that the slow build-up of amyloid in the brain determines whether people will eventually experience Alzheimer’s disease. About 30% of people in their seventies have high levels of amyloid in their brain, yet some retain all their cognitive faculties much longer than others.

Some other factor had to be involved. That something else may be iron.

Six years ago, brain scans of 117 participants in the Australian Imaging and Biomarker Lifestyle study measured their levels of amyloid and brain iron. Every 18 months since, their memory, language, attention and executive functioning has been exhaustively tested. The researchers used this data to see whether brain iron and amyloid can predict people’s cognitive performance. The results have now been published in Brain.

“Cognitive abilities like short-term memory, executive function and language ability declined much faster in people with high brain iron levels and high amyloid levels, even if they were otherwise healthy, than those with low brain iron who were also amyloid-positive,” said Dr Scott Ayton of the Florey Institute.

Higher iron levels in the hippocampus of amyloid-positive...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.