Scientists have found that functioning cognitive behavior despite the continuous brain damage in folks who are asymptomatic can save them from future dementia. These findings were published on Sunday in the form of a revised preprint report on medRxiv.
Neuron degradation with aging is a phenomenon that causes numerous neuron-degeneration diseases. A large consortium of researchers all across the Europe investigated the underlying causes of sustained brain function integrity in asymptomatic individuals who have had brain atrophy – neurons degradation for years.
— medRxiv (@medrxivpreprint) November 22, 2019
The pre-symptomatic phase of neurodegenerative disease commonly lasts for years, where brain atrophy progresses years before showing symptoms. Research team investigated the underlying phenomenon responsible for sustained brain functionality despite brain damage during pre-symptomatic phase, during which person does not show symptoms and remain asymptomatic for years. The most commonly occurring neurodegenerative disorders include Huntington’s disease, spinocerebellar ataxias, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. These typically manifest in adult age with slow progression.
The study is a large cross-sectional study, aimed to elucidate the mechanism involved that could combat the progressive dementia (frontotemporal dementia) as a secondary illness developed from primary neurogenerative diseases.
Up to 13 research sites across Europe and Canada enrolled participants, average age above 18, as part of an international multicenter partnership under the Genetic Frontotemporal Initiative (GENFI). Research consortium studied 121 pre-symptomatic genetic mutations of frontotemporal dementia FTD in carriers (individuals who carry the gene mutation for dementia but are asymptomatic), and 134 family members who did not have mutations.
The multivariate data-driven approach was used to find the potential connection to the sustained brain functions with the help of structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Following the examination, brain atrophy and brain functionality were compared between groups, in relation to the time from expected symptom onset.
Study findings revealed that there were significant disparities between the brain structure and function, in the absence of differences in brain performance. It was observed that brain connectivity, functionality, and cognitive integrity was observed stronger in those individuals who were in pre-symptomatic phase, were not showing symptoms, and have progressive brain atrophy. Whereas, in those individuals who crossed the pre-symptomatic phase and had been showing symptoms with progressive brain atrophy had degraded brain functionality and had higher risk of dementia.
Therefore, the multivariate approach used in the study to cognition and brain function is presumed well suited to identify the multiple interacting risk factors contributing towards the progression of neurodegeneration, ahead of clinical conversion to dementia.
This study also highlights the urgent need of developing tests for neurodegenerative disease that can identify potential patient way before the disease progresses to symptomatic phase. An earlier diagnosis can mean better and effective interventions for these patients. The study also helps scientists understand the intricacies of several neurodegenerative disease, which will aid in developing better therapeutic solutions, and treatments for patients suffering form these diseases.