Use of neuroimaging to detect early brain changes in people at genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease
The neuropathological and cognitive changes preceding Alzheimer's disease appear to begin subtly decades before symptoms of the disease make the clinical diagnosis obvious. Clinical trials have begun to focus on preventive treatments designed to slow age-related cognitive decline and delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease in people with only mild memory complaints. Because people with few cognitive deficits represent a heterogeneous population, prevention studies require large samples in order to detect active drug effects. To address such challenges, recent neuroimaging studies have focused on middle-aged and older adults with only mild memory complaints and evaluated results according to the major known genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease, the apolipoprotein E-4 (APOE-4) allele. In studies using positron emission tomography during mental rest and functional magnetic resonance imaging during memory task performance, brain patterns differ according to genetic risk and are useful in predicting future decline measures and following disease progression in clinical trials.
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