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Blood biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease (AD) may allow for the early detection of AD pathology in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to AD (MCI-AD) and as a co-pathology in MCI with Lewy bodies (MCI-LB). However not all cases of MCI-LB will feature AD pathology. Disease-general biomarkers of neurodegeneration, such as glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) or neurofilament light (NfL), may therefore provide a useful supplement to AD biomarkers. We aimed to compare the relative utility of plasma Aβ42/40, p-tau181, GFAP and NfL in differentiating MCI-AD and MCI-LB from cognitively healthy older adults, and from one another.
Plasma samples were analysed for 172 participants (31 healthy controls, 48 MCI-AD, 28 possible MCI-LB and 65 probable MCI-LB) at baseline, and a subset (n = 55) who provided repeated samples after ≥1 year. Samples were analysed with a Simoa 4-plex assay for Aβ42, Aβ40, GFAP and NfL, and incorporated previously-collected p-tau181 from this same cohort.
Probable MCI-LB had elevated GFAP (p < 0.001) and NfL (p = 0.012) relative to controls, but not significantly lower Aβ42/40 (p = 0.06). GFAP and p-tau181 were higher in MCI-AD than MCI-LB. GFAP discriminated all MCI subgroups, from controls (AUC of 0.75), but no plasma-based marker effectively differentiated MCI-AD from MCI-LB. NfL correlated with disease severity and increased with MCI progression over time (p = 0.011).
Markers of AD and astrocytosis/neurodegeneration are elevated in MCI-LB. GFAP offered similar utility to p-tau181 in distinguishing MCI overall, and its subgroups, from healthy controls.
Bilingualism has been shown to contribute to increased resilience against cognitive aging. One of the key brain structures linked to memory and dementia symptom onset, the hippocampus, has been observed to adapt in response to bilingual experience – at least in healthy individuals. However, in the context of neurodegenerative pathology, it is yet unclear what role previous bilingual experience might have in terms of sustaining integrity of this structure or related behavioral correlates. The present study adds to the limited cohort of research on the effects of bilingualism on neurocognitive outcomes in Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) using structural brain data. We investigate whether bilingual language experience (operationalized as language entropy) results in graded neurocognitive adaptations within a cohort of bilinguals diagnosed with MCI. Results reveal a non-linear effect of bilingual language entropy on hippocampal volume, although they do not predict episodic memory performance, nor age of MCI diagnosis.
This chapter describes pseudoscience and questionable ideas related to neurocognitive disorders. The chapter opens by discussing facts that rebut pervasive myths and pseudoscience. Provider barriers to diagnosis and patient education are also considered. The chapter elaborates on the problems associated with persistent searchers for a cure and the hype of pharmacological interventions. The chapter closes by reviewing research-supported approaches.
This chapter concerns neuroprotective diets, and the use of particular diets and dietary components as an intervention. The first section examines the Mediterranean diet, with its beneficial effects – as prevention and intervention – on cognitive performance, mental health and neurodegeneration. The second section explores the DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) diet, which has shown promise across the same set of conditions as the Mediterranean diet, and with probably a similar set of common mechanisms (e.g., reductions in inflammation and oxidative stress, plus benefits to the cardiovascular system). The third section looks at the ketogenic diet and its variants, with its high fat to carbohydrate ratio, originally and successfully developed for paediatric epilepsy, and its more recent use in other conditions (e.g., multiple sclerosis, brain tumours). The final part of the chapter reviews single nutrients, these being either examples of polyphenols or omega-3 fatty acids, with research focussing on mental health, aging and neurodegeneration.
The gut microbiota plays crucial roles in maintaining the health and homeostasis of its host throughout lifespan, including through its ability to impact brain function and regulate behaviour during ageing. Studies have shown that there are disparate rates of biologic ageing despite equivalencies in chronologic age, including in the development of neurodegenerative diseases, which suggests that environmental factors may play an important role in determining health outcomes in ageing. Recent evidence demonstrates that the gut microbiota may be a potential novel target to ameliorate symptoms of brain ageing and promote healthy cognition. This review highlights the current knowledge around the relationships between the gut microbiota and host brain ageing, including potential contributions to age-related neurodegenerative diseases. Furthermore, we assess key areas for which gut microbiota-based strategies may present as opportunities for intervention.
Ageing is known to be the primary risk factor for most neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease. They are currently incurable and worsen over time, which has broad implications in the context of lifespan and healthspan extension. Adding years to life and even to physical health is suboptimal or even insufficient, if cognitive ageing is not adequately improved. In this review, we will examine how interventions that have the potential to extend lifespan in animals affect the brain, and if they would be able to thwart or delay the development of cognitive dysfunction and/or neurodegeneration. These interventions range from lifestyle (caloric restriction, physical exercise and environmental enrichment) through pharmacological (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide precursors, resveratrol, rapamycin, metformin, spermidine and senolytics) to epigenetic reprogramming. We argue that while many of these interventions have clear potential to improve cognitive health and resilience, large-scale and long-term randomised controlled trials are needed, along with studies utilising washout periods to determine the effects of supplementation cessation, particularly in aged individuals.
The maintenance of a healthy mitochondrial network and the ability to adjust organelle population in response to internal or external stimuli are essential for the function and the survival of eukaryotic cells. Over the last two decades several studies have demonstrated the paramount importance of mitophagy, a selective form of autophagy that removes damaged and/or superfluous organelles, in organismal physiology. Post-mitotic neuronal cells are particularly vulnerable to mitochondrial damage, and mitophagy impairment has emerged as a causative factor in multiple neurodegenerative pathologies, including Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease among others. Although mitochondrial turnover is a multifaceted process, neurons have to tackle additional complications, arising from their pronounced bioenergetic demands and their unique architecture and cellular polarisation that render the degradation of distal organelles challenging. Mounting evidence indicates that despite the functional conservation of mitophagy pathways, the unique features of neuronal physiology have led to the adaptation of compartmentalised solutions, which serve to ensure seamless mitochondrial removal in every part of the cell. In this review, we summarise the current knowledge concerning the molecular mechanisms that mediate mitophagy compartmentalisation and discuss their implications in various human pathologies.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) may alter dementia progression, although co-occurring neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) have received less attention. The mild behavioral impairment (MBI) construct relates NPS to underlying neural circuit disruptions, representing an important area of inquiry regarding TBI and dementia.
(1) to examine the influence of prior TBI history (preceding study enrollment) on MBI incidence in all-cause dementia (prior to dementia diagnosis, i.e. MBI’s original definition) and (2) to utilize MBI domains as a construct for examining the influence of TBI on related NPS across the course of dementia onset and progression.
Using National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center data, individuals progressing from normal cognition to all-cause dementia over 7.6±3.0 years were studied to estimate MBI incidence and symptom domains in 124 participants with prior TBI history compared to 822 without.
Moderate-severe TBI was associated with the social inappropriateness MBI domain (ORadj.=4.034; p=0.024) prior to dementia onset, and the abnormal perception/thought content domain looking across dementia progression (HRadj.=3.703,
p=0.005). TBI (all severities) was associated with the decreased motivation domain looking throughout dementia progression (HRadj.=1.546,
TBI history is associated with particular MBI domains prior to onset and throughout progression of dementia. Understanding TBI’s impact on inter-related NPS may help elucidate underlying neuropathology.
Calorie restriction (CR) has been shown to be one of the most effective methods in alleviating the effects of ageing and age-related diseases. Although the protective effects of CR have been reported, the exact molecular mechanism still needs to be clarified. This study aims to determine differentially expressed (DE) miRNAs and altered gene pathways due to long-term chronic (CCR) and intermittent (ICR) CR in the brain of mice to understand the preventive roles of miRNAs resulting from long-term CR. Ten weeks old mice were enrolled into three different dietary groups; ad libitum, CCR or ICR, and fed until 82 weeks of age. miRNAs were analysed using GeneChip 4.1 microarray and the target of DE miRNAs was determined using miRNA target databases. Out of a total 3,163 analysed miRNAs, 55 of them were differentially expressed either by different CR protocols or by ageing. Brain samples from the CCR group had increased expression levels of mmu-miR-713 while decreasing expression levels of mmu-miR-184-3p and mmu-miR-351-5p compared to the other dietary groups. Also, current results indicated that CCR showed better preventive effects than that of ICR. Thus, CCR may perform its protective effects by modulating these specific miRNAs since they are shown to play roles in neurogenesis, chromatin and histone regulation. In conclusion, these three miRNAs could be potential targets for neurodegenerative and ageing-related diseases and may play important roles in the protective effects of CR in the brain.
The present paper aims at reviewing and commenting on the relationships between sleep and circadian phasing alterations and neurodegenerative/neuroprogressive processes in mood disorder. We carried out a systematic review, according to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines, in PubMed, PsycINFO, and Embase electronic databases for literature related to mood disorders, sleep disturbances, and neurodegenerative/neuroprogressive processes in relation to (1) neuroinflammation, (2) activation of the stress system, (3) oxidative stress, (4) accumulation of neurotoxic proteins, and (5) neuroprotection deficit. Seventy articles were collectively selected and analyzed. Experimental and clinical studies revealed that insomnia, conditions of sleep loss, and altered circadian sleep may favor neurodegeneration and neuroprogression in mood disorders. These sleep disturbances may induce a state of chronic inflammation by enhancing neuroinflammation, both directly and indirectly, via microglia and astrocytes activation. They may act as neurobiological stressors that by over-activating the stress system may negatively influence neural plasticity causing neuronal damage. In addition, sleep disturbances may favor the accumulation of neurotoxic proteins, favor oxidative stress, and a deficit in neuroprotection hence contributing to neurodegeneration and neuroprogression. Targeting sleep disturbances in the clinical practice may hold a neuroprotective value for mood disorders.
Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic widespread pain syndrome. Although its mechanism remains relatively unknown, accelerated neurodegeneration in the brain has been reported in patients with FM. Sleep disturbance can increase the risk of neurocognitive disorders, which are associated with tau and beta-amyloid (Aβ) protein accumulation. We hypothesize neurodegeneration in patients with FM may be associated with sleep disturbance.
In this case-control study, we analyzed serum tau and Aβ levels and their association with symptom profiles for patients with FM, by recruiting 22 patients with FM and 22 age-matched healthy participants. The visual analog scale, Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, pressure pain threshold test, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), Beck Depression Inventory-II, Beck Anxiety Inventory, and serum tau and beta-amyloid-42 (Aβ-42) levels were recorded. The Mann–Whitney test was conducted to compare questionnaire and protein level results between the groups. Pearson correlation test was conducted to investigate the correlation of questionnaire scores with tau and Aβ-42 levels in patients with FM. The significance level was set at P < .05.
Serum tau and Aβ-42 levels were significantly higher in patients with FM than in controls. A positive correlation between serum tau levels and PSQI scores was observed in patients with FM (r = 0.476, P = .025). We found that only sleep disturbance in patients with FM was significantly associated with higher serum tau levels among all symptom scores.
We suggest sleep disturbance may play a vital role in the pathomechanism of accelerated neurodegeneration in FM.
The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) is a popular and simple-to-administer screening instrument to detect cognitive impairment. The MoCA generates a total score and six domain-specific index scores: (1) Memory, (2) Executive Functioning, (3) Attention, (4) Language, (5) Visuospatial, and (6) Orientation. It is unclear whether these MoCA scores can differentiate between distinct clinical dementia syndromes. This study compared MoCA Index scores between amnestic dementia of the Alzheimer’s type (DAT) and primary progressive aphasia (PPA), a language-based dementia.
Baseline MoCA data were analyzed from 33 DAT, 37 PPA, and 83 cognitively normal individuals enrolled in the Clinical Core of the Northwestern Alzheimer’s Disease Center. A one-way analysis of covariance adjusted for age was used to compare MoCA scores among groups. A logistic regression model was implemented to observe individual likelihood of group affiliation based on MoCA Index scores.
The mean MoCA total score was significantly higher in controls compared to both patient groups (p < .001) but did not differ between DAT and PPA groups. However, in accordance with salient clinical features commonly observed in DAT versus PPA, Memory and Orientation Index scores were lowest in the DAT group (p < .001), whereas Language and Attention Index scores were lowest in the PPA group (p < .001). Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that the individual effects of Memory (p = .001), Language (p = .002), and Orientation (p = .025) Indices were significant.
MoCA Index scores can help differentiate among distinct cognitive syndromes, suggesting it may be a useful brief screening tool to detect domain-specific cognitive impairment.
The impact of acute and chronic stress on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is reviewed and evidence presented that corticotrophin releasing factor (CRF) is the stress neurotransmitter which plays an important role in the activation of the central sympathetic and serotonergic systems. The activity of CRF is expressed through specific receptors (CRF 1 and 2) that are antagonistic in their actions and widely distributed in the limbic regions of the brain, as well as in the hypothalamus, and on immune cells.
The mechanism whereby chronic stress, via the CRF induced activation of the dorsal raphe nucleus, can induce a change in the serotonergic system, involves an increase in the 5HT2A and a decrease in the 5HT1A receptor mediated function. Such changes contribute to the onset of anxiety and depression. In addition, the hypersecretion of glucocorticoids that is associated with chronic stress and depression desensitises the central glucocorticoid receptors to the negative feedback inhibition of the HPA axis. This indirectly results in the further activation of the HPA axis.
The rise in pro-inflammatory cytokines that usually accompanies the chronic stress response results in a further stimulation of the HPA axis thereby adding to the stress response. While CRF would appear to play a pivotal role, evidence is provided that simultaneous changes in the serotonergic and noradrenergic systems, combined with the activation of peripheral and central macrophages that increase the pro-inflammatory cytokine concentrations in the brain and blood, also play a critical role in predisposing to anxiety and depression. Neurodegenerative changes in the brain that frequently occur in the elderly patient with major depression, could result from the activation of indoleaminedioxygenase (IDO), a widely distributed enzyme that converts tryptophan via the kynenine pathway to for the neurotoxic end product quinolinic acid.
Excessive cortical cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) has been acknowledged as a possible marker of a gray matter loss. This excess in schizophrenia is found predominantly in the prefrontal and temporal regions. We hypothesized that the poorer global outcome and treatment response in males with schizophrenia are related to a greater cortical volume loss as compared to females.
Subjects and methods
In order to test this hypothesis we have used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study the cortical (prefrontal, temporal, and hemispheric) CSF values in a group of 85 patients with schizophrenia, of whom 56 were males and 29, females. We calculated the residual values of CSF in the patients based on the data pertaining to 45 control subjects and linear regression, from which the normal effects of age and intracranial volume were discounted. These residual scores constitute a quantitative measurement of the excess of CSF due to the disease.
Males, but not females, presented a trend-level significant excess of left prefrontal CSF. The prefrontal and temporal residual values were significantly associated with illness duration in males, but not in females.
These results conform to the worse outcome and the higher severity of structural abnormalities generally found in schizophrenia in male subjects.
Our data support the hypothesis of accelerated prefrontal cortical loss in males, but not in females with schizophrenia.
Nutritional ketosis, induced via either the classical ketogenic diet or the use of emulsified medium-chain triglycerides, is an established treatment for pharmaceutical resistant epilepsy in children and more recently in adults. In addition, the use of oral ketogenic compounds, fractionated coconut oil, very low carbohydrate intake, or ketone monoester supplementation has been reported to be potentially helpful in mild cognitive impairment, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autistic spectrum disorder. In these and other neurodegenerative and neuroprogressive disorders, there are detrimental effects of oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and neuroinflammation on neuronal function. However, they also adversely impact on neurone–glia interactions, disrupting the role of microglia and astrocytes in central nervous system (CNS) homeostasis. Astrocytes are the main site of CNS fatty acid oxidation; the resulting ketone bodies constitute an important source of oxidative fuel for neurones in an environment of glucose restriction. Importantly, the lactate shuttle between astrocytes and neurones is dependent on glycogenolysis and glycolysis, resulting from the fact that the astrocytic filopodia responsible for lactate release are too narrow to accommodate mitochondria. The entry into the CNS of ketone bodies and fatty acids, as a result of nutritional ketosis, has effects on the astrocytic glutamate–glutamine cycle, glutamate synthase activity, and on the function of vesicular glutamate transporters, EAAT, Na+, K+-ATPase, Kir4.1, aquaporin-4, Cx34 and KATP channels, as well as on astrogliosis. These mechanisms are detailed and it is suggested that they would tend to mitigate the changes seen in many neurodegenerative and neuroprogressive disorders. Hence, it is hypothesized that nutritional ketosis may have therapeutic applications in such disorders.
Few proteins have come under such intense scrutiny as superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD1). For almost a century, scientists have dissected its form, function and then later its malfunction in the neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We now know SOD1 is a zinc and copper metalloenzyme that clears superoxide as part of our antioxidant defence and respiratory regulation systems. The possibility of reduced structural integrity was suggested by the first crystal structures of human SOD1 even before deleterious mutations in the sod1 gene were linked to the ALS. This concept evolved in the intervening years as an impressive array of biophysical studies examined the characteristics of mutant SOD1 in great detail. We now recognise how ALS-related mutations perturb the SOD1 maturation processes, reduce its ability to fold and reduce its thermal stability and half-life. Mutant SOD1 is therefore predisposed to monomerisation, non-canonical self-interactions, the formation of small misfolded oligomers and ultimately accumulation in the tell-tale insoluble inclusions found within the neurons of ALS patients. We have also seen that several post-translational modifications could push wild-type SOD1 down this toxic pathway. Recently we have come to view ALS as a prion-like disease where both the symptoms, and indeed SOD1 misfolding itself, are transmitted to neighbouring cells. This raises the possibility of intervention after the initial disease presentation. Several small-molecule and biologic-based strategies have been devised which directly target the SOD1 molecule to change the behaviour thought to be responsible for ALS. Here we provide a comprehensive review of the many biophysical advances that sculpted our view of SOD1 biology and the recent work that aims to apply this knowledge for therapeutic outcomes in ALS.
Because individuals develop dementia as a manifestation of neurodegenerative or neurovascular disorder, there is a need to develop reliable approaches to their identification. We are undertaking an observational study (Ontario Neurodegenerative Disease Research Initiative [ONDRI]) that includes genomics, neuroimaging, and assessments of cognition as well as language, speech, gait, retinal imaging, and eye tracking. Disorders studied include Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and vascular cognitive impairment. Data from ONDRI will be collected into the Brain-CODE database to facilitate correlative analysis. ONDRI will provide a repertoire of endophenotyped individuals that will be a unique, publicly available resource.
Objectives: Cognitive impairment is common in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Three neurocognitive networks support efficient cognition: the salience network, the default mode network, and the central executive network. The salience network is thought to switch between activating and deactivating the default mode and central executive networks. Anti-correlated interactions between the salience and default mode networks in particular are necessary for efficient cognition. Our previous work demonstrated altered functional coupling between the neurocognitive networks in non-demented individuals with PD compared to age-matched control participants. Here, we aim to identify associations between cognition and functional coupling between these neurocognitive networks in the same group of participants. Methods: We investigated the extent to which intrinsic functional coupling among these neurocognitive networks is related to cognitive performance across three neuropsychological domains: executive functioning, psychomotor speed, and verbal memory. Twenty-four non-demented individuals with mild to moderate PD and 20 control participants were scanned at rest and evaluated on three neuropsychological domains. Results: PD participants were impaired on tests from all three domains compared to control participants. Our imaging results demonstrated that successful cognition across healthy aging and Parkinson’s disease participants was related to anti-correlated coupling between the salience and default mode networks. Individuals with poorer performance scores across groups demonstrated more positive salience network/default-mode network coupling. Conclusions: Successful cognition relies on healthy coupling between the salience and default mode networks, which may become dysfunctional in PD. These results can help inform non-pharmacological interventions (repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation) targeting these specific networks before they become vulnerable in early stages of Parkinson’s disease. (JINS, 2016, 22, 205–215)