Higlights of Canadian research and policy news.

This news brought to you by the Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program and brainXchange. 

Gene with Alzheimer's Disease Implications Involved in Childhood Cognition


Monday, August 14, 2017

Genetic predisposition is one of many factors implicated in developing Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid precursor protein (APP) generates amyloid beta peptides; a mutation in the gene that encodes APP can cause these peptides to build up in plaques in the brain, which affects cognition. It is the ARC gene complex, which is involved in neural plasticity, or the brain changing and adapting over time, that contains the gene that encodes APP.

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Gene with Alzheimer's Disease Implications Involved in Childhood Cognition

Monday, August 14, 2017

Genetic predisposition is one of many factors implicated in developing Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid precursor protein (APP) generates amyloid beta peptides; a mutation in the gene that encodes APP can cause these peptides to build up in plaques in the brain, which affects cognition. It is the ARC gene complex, which is involved in neural plasticity, or the brain changing and adapting over time, that contains the gene that encodes APP.

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Middle-Aged Adults with Good Vascular Health at Lower Risk of Dementia

Monday, August 14, 2017

A long-term, large-scale study from the National Institutes of Health followed almost 16 thousand adults aged 45-64 in 1987 for 25 years; participants’ general health was assessed five times throughout the study. Over 1500 adults were diagnosed with dementia over the course of the study, with carriers of the APOE4 gene, African Americans, and those who did not graduate from high school being more likely to develop the disease. Individuals with diabetes or high blood pressure and Caucasian adults who smoked were also at elevated risk.

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First-Person Shooter Video Games May Cause Loss of Grey Matter in Brain

Monday, August 14, 2017

A recent study out of Montreal was the first to find that first-person shooter video games can have a negative impact on the brain; these video games have been shown in the past to have a positive effect on visual attention and motor control, but this study found the opposite is true for the hippocampus.

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Blue Umbrella Program Pilot Evaluation

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Alzheimer Society of Ontario (ASO) has launched the Blue Umbrella (BU) program to create dementia-friendly business practices; the program consists of training for staff at local businesses in an effort to create Dementia-Friendly Communities (DFC). A DFC is a place where people understand the experience of living with dementia; it includes individuals living with dementia, and encourages and supports their independence. A DFC values the contributions of people living with dementia.

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Dementia Diagnosis Lowers Self-Perceived Quality of Life

Monday, August 7, 2017

A study out of Pennsylvania found that a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer’s disease (AD) may decrease a person’s subjective perception of wellbeing. Individuals that knew of their diagnosis were more likely to report depression, anxiety, and low quality of life than their cognitively normal counterparts. In addition, persons with cognitive impairment diagnoses that believed their condition would deteriorate over their life span experienced lower day-to-day satisfaction.

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Caudate Nucleus Grows and Hippocampus Shrinks in Alzheimer's Brains

Monday, August 7, 2017

A collaborative study between research institutes in Canada and Norway recently found that people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) have a bigger caudate nucleus, which is the region in the brain responsible for ingrained habits and ‘autopilot.’ Researchers examined the caudate nucleus and hippocampus volume of 257 seniors that either had AD or were exhibiting signs of mild cognitive impairment, finding that those with AD had a smaller hippocampus and a larger caudate nucleus. Dr.

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Postsurgical Delirium Associated with Later Development of Dementia

Monday, July 31, 2017

Cognitive impairment and dementia are both risk factors for postoperative delirium, but few studies have looked into whether delirium in cognitively healthy individuals is itself a risk factor for developing dementia. A recent study assessed over 2000 participants over the age of 65, evaluating their cognitive health before surgery and at 15-month intervals after surgery.

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New Mechanism of Cell Death in Alzheimer's Disease Discovered

Monday, July 31, 2017

A collaborative study from a number of American universities and research institutes shows for the first time that a pathway called ‘necroptosis’ is involved in the Alzheimer’s disease progression. Necroptosis is a result of inflammation, which is common in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Three proteins – RIPK1, RIPK3, and MLKL – initiate necroptosis, a process in which cells “burst from the inside out.”  RIPK1 and RIPK3 form a ‘necrosome,’ which activates MLKL, allowing cell death through a pathway involving the mitochondria.

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Leafy Green Vegetables May Protect Against Cognitive Decline

Monday, July 31, 2017

A link has been established between low levels of lutein in older adulthood and cognitive decline; however, the role of lutein in middle age is an understudied area. Lutein is a compound found in “richly coloured fruits and vegetables” such as spinach and kale; the carotenoid cannot be synthesized in the body and therefore it must be obtained through food. It accumulates in the brain as well as the eyes, allowing scientists to examine its levels non-invasively through the retina.

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