UCSF News: Early Alzheimer’s Brain Pathology Linked to Psychiatric Symptoms

Coverage of Grinberg lab study on the pathological foundations for early neuropsychiatric symptoms in Alzheimer's disease. See the full story at the UCSF News site

Early Alzheimer’s Brain Pathology Linked to Psychiatric Symptoms

Study Suggests Biological Basis for Depression, Anxiety, Sleep Disturbances and Other Symptoms in Older Adults

UC San Francisco researchers, in collaboration with the unique Brazilian Biobank for Aging Studies (BBAS) at the University of São Paulo, have shown that the earliest stages of the brain degeneration associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are linked to neuropsychiatric symptoms including anxiety, depression, loss of appetite, and sleep disturbances. 

The findings – published in their final version Oct. 15, 2018, in the print edition of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease following preliminary online publication in September – could lead to earlier diagnosis of AD and prove a valuable biomarker in the development of therapies to slow the course of the disease, the authors say, but may also have broader implications for understanding the biological basis of psychiatric symptoms in older adults.

Though commonly associated with memory loss and dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is actually a progressive neurodegenerative condition that can be detected in a brain autopsy decades before these classic cognitive symptoms occur. A “Holy Grail” of Alzheimer’s research is to develop treatments that could be given in the disease’s earliest stages to protect brain tissue from further loss and to slow or prevent the eventual development of dementia. However, the development of such drugs will require a better understanding of the biology that drives the first stages of the disease and the ability to diagnose patients early enough to prevent extensive loss of neural tissue. 

Read the full coverage at the UCSF News site. See the manuscript here.