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Life expectancy in most developed countries has been rising over the past century. In the UK alone, there are about 12 million people over 65 years old and centenarians have increased by 85% in the past 15 years. As a result of the ageing population, which is due mainly to improvements in medical treatments, public health, improved housing and lifestyle choices, there is an associated increase in the prevalence of pathological conditions, such as metabolic disorders, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, many types of cancer and others. Statistics suggest that nearly 54% of elderly people in the UK live with at least two chronic conditions, revealing the urgency for identifying interventions that can prevent and/or treat such disorders. Non-pharmacological, dietary interventions such as energetic restriction (ER) and methionine restriction (MR) have revealed promising outcomes in increasing longevity and preventing and/or reversing the development of ageing-associated disorders. In this review, we discuss the evidence and mechanisms that are involved in these processes. Fibroblast growth factor 1 and hydrogen sulphide are important molecules involved in the effects of ER and MR in the extension of life span. Their role is also associated with the prevention of metabolic and cognitive disorders, highlighting these interventions as promising modulators for improvement of health span.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a major health concern as the world population ages. Yet, few studies have examined what the public over the age of 50 knows about AD. This qualitative study, based on 40 in-depth interviews, examines the knowledge of AD by Flemish people between 50 and 80 years old and their cross-source engagement with information sources. Building on AD media representations and theories on media complementarity and health information behaviour, we find that respondents mostly encounter AD information non-purposively via traditional mass media and interpersonal communication, while the internet is occasionally used to purposefully seek information. Novels, personal experiences/social proximity, public figures and particularly film stand out as channels and sources of AD information, suggesting that fictional narratives, personal experiences and being able to identify with others leave lasting impressions and help to communicate and disperse AD information. However, common misconceptions and gaps in knowledge persist, including AD being considered part of the normal ageing process and old age as well as confusing AD with Parkinson's disease. The biomedical perspective and the tragedy discourse prevail among the majority of respondents, who describe AD in terms of decline, loss and death and as ‘the beginning of the end’. Only a few, typically female respondents, appear aware of the role of individual health behaviour and lifestyle choices to prevent dementia or delay its onset. The misconceptions of AD and gaps in knowledge, as well as the fact that a third of all cases of dementia might be delayed or prevented by managing lifestyle and other risk factors, stress the importance of public educational programmes and the need to emphasise and raise awareness of preventative behaviour. Overall, the findings from this study can be of help to public health communicators and dementia-awareness campaigns, as well as AD training programmes for health-care professionals and family care-givers.
The efficacy of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and memantine in the symptomatic treatment of Alzheimer's disease is well-established. Randomised trials have shown them to be associated with a reduction in the rate of cognitive decline.
To investigate the real-world effectiveness of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and memantine for dementia-causing diseases in the largest UK observational secondary care service data-set to date.
We extracted mentions of relevant medications and cognitive testing (Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) scores) from de-identified patient records from two National Health Service (NHS) trusts. The 10-year changes in cognitive performance were modelled using a combination of generalised additive and linear mixed-effects modelling.
The initial decline in MMSE and MoCA scores occurs approximately 2 years before medication is initiated. Medication prescription stabilises cognitive performance for the ensuing 2–5 months. The effect is boosted in more cognitively impaired cases at the point of medication prescription and attenuated in those taking antipsychotics. Importantly, patients who are switched between agents at least once do not experience any beneficial cognitive effect from pharmacological treatment.
This study presents one of the largest real-world examination of the efficacy of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and memantine for symptomatic treatment of dementia. We found evidence that 68% of individuals respond to treatment with a period of cognitive stabilisation before continuing their decline at the pre-treatment rate.
The aim of this study was to contribute with knowledge about how a sense of home and belonging is enacted and can be supported in everyday life, with a particular focus on the relationships that connect everyday life and the environment in nursing home contexts. The concepts ‘a sense of home’ and ‘belonging’ were chosen with the ambition to grasp values grounded in experiences and everyday practices, with an openness for various aspects that can support an enjoyable life and comfort for nursing home residents. The study focused on communal areas, e.g. dining room, kitchen, corridors and gardens, that serve as arenas where nursing home residents’ everyday lives expand beyond the private room. Ethnographic methods were applied to identify and explore situations where a sense of home and belonging were enacted in nursing homes that had been acknowledged as good examples of nursing home environments. Through the analytic process, four qualities were identified: (a) a cornerstone for stability and everydayness, (b) the beating heart, (c) spatial dynamics, and (d) magnetic places. Following from the chosen methodology, the findings provide a situated understanding of how communal areas in nursing homes can invite a sense of home and belonging for the residents.
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) may gradually worsen to dementia, but often remains stable for extended periods of time. Little is known about the predictors of decline to help explain this variation. We aimed to explore whether this heterogeneous course of MCI may be predicted by the presence of Lewy body (LB) symptoms in a prospectively-recruited longitudinal cohort of MCI with Lewy bodies (MCI-LB) and Alzheimer's disease (MCI-AD).
A prospective cohort (n = 76) aged ⩾60 years underwent detailed assessment after recent MCI diagnosis, and were followed up annually with repeated neuropsychological testing and clinical review of cognitive status and LB symptoms. Latent class mixture modelling identified data-driven sub-groups with distinct trajectories of global cognitive function.
Three distinct trajectories were identified in the full cohort: slow/stable progression (46%), intermediate progressive decline (41%) and a small group with a much faster decline (13%). The presence of LB symptomology, and visual hallucinations in particular, predicted decline v. a stable cognitive trajectory. With time zeroed on study end (death, dementia or withdrawal) where available (n = 39), the same subgroups were identified. Adjustment for baseline functioning obscured the presence of any latent classes, suggesting that baseline function is an important parameter in prospective decline.
These results highlight some potential signals for impending decline in MCI; poorer baseline function and the presence of probable LB symptoms – particularly visual hallucinations. Identifying people with a rapid decline is important but our findings are preliminary given the modest cohort size.
Little is known about the experiences of people living alone with dementia in the community and their non-resident relatives and friends who support them. In this paper, we explore their respective attitudes and approaches to the future, particularly regarding the future care and living arrangements of those living with dementia. The study is based on a qualitative secondary analysis of interviews with 24 people living alone with early-stage dementia in North Wales, United Kingdom, and one of their relatives or friends who supported them. All but four of the dyads were interviewed twice over 12 months (a total of 88 interviews). In the analysis, it was observed that several people with dementia expressed the desire to continue living at home for ‘as long as possible’. A framework approach was used to investigate this theme in more depth, drawing on concepts from the existing studies of people living with dementia and across disciplines. Similarities and differences in the future outlook and temporal orientation of the participants were identified. The results support previous research suggesting that the future outlook of people living with early-stage dementia can be interpreted in part as a response to their situation and a way of coping with the threats that it is perceived to present, and not just an impaired view of time. Priorities for future research are highlighted in the discussion.
The presence of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and of an apolipoprotein E (apoE) ε4 allele both predict the development of Alzheimer's disease. However, the extent to which this allele also predicts the development of MCI is unclear even though MCI is an early transitional stage in the development of Alzheimer's disease. The present study investigates the prevalence of the apoE ε4 allele in incipient MCI. Participants were recruited from the population-based Leipzig Longitudinal Study of the Aged (LEILA75+). All subjects who were initially cognitively healthy, i.e. did not meet MCI criteria described by Petersen [Petersen RC. Mild cognitive impairment. J Intern Med 2004; 256(3): 183–94], and whose apoE status could be determined were followed-up. After 4.5 years, 15.5% of the cognitively healthy target population had developed MCI. The frequencies of the apoE ε4 genotype did not differ between individuals with incipient MCI (12.9%) and individuals who remained cognitively healthy during the study (18.4%, p > 0.5). Consequently, the apoE ε4 genotype is not a necessary or sufficient risk factor for MCI. Further studies need to investigate the influence of the whole range of genetic and environmental risk factors on the course of Alzheimer's disease including the initial development of MCI and the later conversion to Alzheimer's disease.
Subjective Memory Impairment (SMI) may hold value in the elderly as a predictor of dementia. There is yet to exist any standard definition of SMI for use in research or for clinical practice.
This study aims to identify previous and current definitions of SMI used in published research and to propose a set of criteria that may help increase SMI's predictive power of future cognitive decline.
Literature searches were conducted across a number of electronic databases including Medline.
515 citations were identified, 336 papers were obtained, of which 44 were selected for containing definitions for SMI. These definitions varied widely in terms of the types of questions used to determine SMI and additional features pertaining to memory complaints included in the definition.
There is no consistency in how SMI is defined. We propose a set of criteria aimed to increase specificity of memory complainers for those at increased risk of dementia. Further research is required to refine and validate the different criteria suggested. An international consent on the necessary criteria by experts in the field might be useful.
Winter births have been associated with a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other psychiatric disorders. In the present investigation, this putative association was examined in a sample of gerontopsychiatric patients. An analysis of the quarterly birth rates of 83 patients with AD, 78 elderly depressive patients with an early onset and 74 patients with a late onset of the depressive disorder, 48 patients with both AD and depression (co-morbid patients) and 107 healthy control subjects, revealed no particular seasonal distribution for any of the diagnostic groups. In AD and co-morbid patients, controlling for the ApoE genotype did not change this finding. Logistic regression analysis revealed the expected findings that increasing age and the presence of the ApoE4 allele were associated with a higher risk of dementia. Younger age and female gender were identified as risk factors for a depressive disorder. A winter birth (birth in the first three months of the year) was not associated with any of the diagnostic subgroups.
We concluded that in our sample a seasonal distribution of births was not found to increase the risk for AD or geriatric depression.
Memory loss is the most common early symptom of Alzheimer's disease (AD). For this study, we chose the hippocampi as regions of interest. The hippocampus, which is closely associated with memory processing, is known to be vulnerable to damage in the early stage of AD. We considered both inter-group (patients vs controls) and intra-group (right vs left hippocampus) comparisons. We examined seven patients meeting the DSM-III-R criteria of senile dementia and the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke-Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Association (NINCDS — ADRDA) criteria of probable AD, and II aged controls. This study focused on the measurement of phosphorus 31 (31P) Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy metabolites in each hippocampus. We found significant differences in phosphorus metabolites for both intra-group comparison (pH shifted towards relative alkalosis in the left hippocampus of patients) and inter-group consideration (reduced phosphodiesters [Pde]and elevated gamma adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the right hippocampus, higher inorganic phosphate (pHi) in the left hippocampus for patients as compared to controls). We suggest energy failure and membrane functional breakdown in patients compared to aged controls.
Depression is common in Alzheimer's disease (AD). The symptomatology of depression in dementia may differ from depression alone. Consequently, the reports on lifetime depressive symptoms were compared in AD patients and age-matched non-demented participants.
Seventy-six AD patients, 109 elderly from the general population and their 189 siblings were examined using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). The presence of individual lifetime depressive symptoms was compared between 76 AD patients, 29 AD patients with comorbid depression, and different control groups using χ2 statistics and logistic regression analysis.
Lifetime depressive symptoms were significantly more frequent in 76 AD patients than in 109 age-matched elderly from the general population. These 76 AD patients complained more about thinking and concentration disturbances, and less about depressed mood or appetite disturbance than the 298 non-demented participants matched for the lifetime presence of major depression (MD). In agreement, the 29 patients comorbid for lifetime diagnoses of AD and MD reported less about depressed mood than the 114 age-matched elderly with MD only. Feelings of worthlessness and suicidal ideas were related to the severity of cognitive decline.
AD influences the reports on lifetime depressive symptoms. This may be caused by additional neurodegeneration, by an overlap of symptoms of depression and dementia or by an altered perception of mood disturbances in AD. Further studies should investigate these alternatives.
The apolipoprotein E (APOE) ɛ4 allele is correlated with an earlier onset of Alzheimer's disease symptoms; larger head circumference has been associated with an individual resilience against cognitive impairment.
We explored if larger head circumference attenuates the effect of the APOE ɛ4 allele on cognition in 380 Catholic sisters covering the spectrum from normal cognitive performance to severe dementia.
Linear regression analysis, adjusting for risk factors for cognitive decline, revealed that APOE ɛ4 was correlated with worse cognition and that larger head circumference attenuated the negative effect of the ɛ4 allele on cognitive performance.
Larger head circumference (i.e. larger brain size) seems to be associated with greater resilience against genetic determinants of cognitive impairment, possibly due to enhanced brain or cognitive reserve.
In observational studies, type-2 diabetes is associated with increased risk of dementia; however, the causal nature of this association remains unanswered. In an unselected nationwide study of all Danes, we wanted to test whether type-2 diabetes is associated with dementia subtypes, and to test whether potential associations are of a causal nature.
In the current study of nationwide observational registry data in all Danes above the age of 65 years (n = 784 434) combined with genetic consortia data on 213 370 individuals, we investigated the associations between type-2 diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, unspecified dementia and all-cause dementia, and whether observational associations were of a causal nature by applying a two-sample Mendelian randomisation strategy. We addressed key biases inherent in Mendelian randomisation approaches.
Important confounders (age, ethnicity, size of community, region, civil status and education level) were captured on all 784 434 individuals and adjusted for in the models. Multifactorial adjusted hazard ratios were 1.13 (1.06–1.21) for Alzheimer's disease, 1.98 (1.83–2.14) for vascular dementia, 1.53 (1.48–1.59) for unspecified dementia and 1.48 (1.44–1.53) for all-cause dementia in persons with type-2 diabetes v. without. Results were similar for men and women. The two-sample Mendelian randomisation estimate for the association between the genetic instrument and Alzheimer's disease was 1.04 (0.98–1.10), consistent with sensitivity estimates, addressing pleiotropy, measurement bias and weak instrument bias.
In a nationwide study of all Danes above the age of 65 years, we show that type-2 diabetes is associated with major subtypes of dementia – with particularly strong associations for vascular dementia and unspecified dementia – the two types of dementia with the most obvious vascular pathologies. Although the present two-sample Mendelian randomisation approach using genetic consortia data suggests that type-2 diabetes is not a direct cause of Alzheimer's disease, we were unable to test the causal nature of type-2 diabetes for vascular dementia and unspecified dementia, because no publicly available genetic consortia data yet exist for these dementia endpoints. The causal nature of type-2 diabetes for dementia with vascular pathologies is pivotal questions to solve for future public health recommendations and therapeutic advice.
Neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's (AD) and Parkinson's diseases (PD), are characterised by the formation of aberrant assemblies of misfolded proteins. The discovery of disease-modifying drugs for these disorders is challenging, in part because we still have a limited understanding of their molecular origins. In this review, we discuss how biophysical approaches can help explain the formation of the aberrant conformational states of proteins whose neurotoxic effects underlie these diseases. We discuss in particular models based on the transgenic expression of amyloid-β (Aβ) and tau in AD, and α-synuclein in PD. Because biophysical methods have enabled an accurate quantification and a detailed understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying protein misfolding and aggregation in vitro, we expect that the further development of these methods to probe directly the corresponding mechanisms in vivo will open effective routes for diagnostic and therapeutic interventions.
Alzheimer's disease and related dementias are associated with increasing health burden in low- and middle-income countries. Less well-recognized is the potential health burden experienced by other affected individuals, such as family caregivers. In this study, we sought to profile the burden of care and its association with symptoms of depression and anxiety among informal caregivers of people living with dementia in rural southwestern Uganda.
We conducted a cross-sectional study of 232 family caregivers of people with dementia. The key measured variables of interest were caregiving burden (Zarit Burden Index) and symptoms of depression and anxiety (Depression Anxiety Stress Scales). We fitted multivariable regression models specifying depression and anxiety symptoms as the primary outcomes of interest and caregiving burden as the primary explanatory variable of interest.
Family caregivers of people with dementia experience significant caregiving burden, with each item on the Zarit Burden Index endorsed by more than 70% of study participants. Nearly half [108 (47%)] of caregivers had Zarit Burden Interview scores >60, suggestive of severe caregiving burden. In multivariable regression models, we estimated a statistically significant positive association between caregiving burden and symptoms of both depression [b = 0.42; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.34–0.49] and anxiety (b = 0.37; 95% CI 0.30–0.45).
Family caregivers of people with dementia in rural Uganda experience a high caregiving burden, which is associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Interventions aimed at reducing caregiving burden may have important collateral mental health benefits.
The use of Alzheimer disease medication for the treatment of dementia symptoms has shown significant benefits with regards to functional and cognitive outcomes as well as nursing home placement (NHP) and mortality. Hospitalisations in these patient groups are characterised by extended length of stays (LOS), frequent readmissions, frequent NHP and high-mortality rates. The impact of Alzheimer disease medication on the aforementioned outcomes remains still unknown. This study assessed the association of Alzheimer disease medication with outcomes of hospitalisation among patients with Alzheimer disease and other forms of dementia.
A dynamic retrospective cohort study from 2004 to 2015 was conducted which claims data from a German health insurance company. People with dementia (PWD) were identified using ICD-10 codes and diagnostic measures. The main predictor of interest was the use of Alzheimer disease medication. Hospitalisation outcomes included LOS, readmissions, NHP and mortality during and after hospitalisation across four hospitalisations. Confounding was addressed using a propensity score throughout all analyses.
A total of 1380 users of Alzheimer disease medication and 6730 non-users were identified. The use of Alzheimer disease medication was associated with significantly shorter LOS during the first hospitalisations with estimates for the second, third and fourth showed a tendency towards shorter hospital stays. In addition, current users of Alzheimer disease medication had a lower risk of hospital readmission after the first two hospitalisations. These associations were not significant for the third and fourth hospitalisations. Post-hospitalisation NHP and mortality rates also tended to be lower among current users than among non-users but differences did not reach statistical significance.
Our results indicate that Alzheimer disease medication might contribute to a reduction of the LOS and the number of readmissions in PWD.
Early detection of Alzheimer's disease is vital for developing novel treatments. Attempts to identify the intermediate state between normal cognition and dementia have evolved over the past 50 years. Current taxonomies of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) may be criticised for their imprecise operationalisation. With the advent of biomarkers such as amyloid-beta positron emission tomography imaging in established Alzheimer's disease, much research has focused on establishing which factors predict progression from MCI to Alzheimer's disease dementia. In this review, we discuss the historical context of MCI before reviewing the literature of MCI subtypes and their risk of progression to Alzheimer's disease dementia. Finally, we summarise the literature and discuss limitations and weaknesses of how the construct is operationalised and implemented, before offering suggestions for development of the concept of MCI. We conclude that MCI must be empirically defined for the sake of its predictive validity to identify Alzheimer's disease before dementia develops.
Decreases in cognitive function related to increases in oxidative stress and inflammation occur with ageing. Acknowledging the free radical-quenching activity and anti-inflammatory action of the carotenoid lycopene, the aim of the present review was to assess if there is evidence for a protective relationship between lycopene and maintained cognitive function or between lycopene and development or progression of dementia. A systematic literature search identified five cross-sectional and five longitudinal studies examining these outcomes in relation to circulating or dietary lycopene. Among four studies evaluating relationships between lycopene and maintained cognition, three reported significant positive relationships. Neither of the two studies reporting on relationship between lycopene and development of dementia reported significant results. Of four studies investigating circulating lycopene and pre-existing dementia, only one reported significant associations between lower circulating lycopene and higher rates of Alzheimer's disease mortality. Acknowledging heterogeneity among studies, there is insufficient evidence and a paucity of data to draw firm conclusions or tease apart direct effects of lycopene. Nevertheless, as low circulating lycopene is a predictor of all-cause mortality, further investigation into its relationship with cognitive longevity and dementia-related mortality is warranted.