Smell and Eye Tests May Spot Dementia Early   Leave a comment

Researchers reveal these “potentially exciting findings”

A decreased ability to identify odors might signal the development of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), while eye tests might reveal the build-up of beta-amyloid in the brain, a hallmark of the disease, according to a series of studies released this week at the 2014 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Copenhagen.

What’s That Smell?

Mounting evidence hints that trouble correctly identifying odors may signal cognitive impairment and may serve as an early clinical feature of AD.

Participants took the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT) The researchers found that a smaller hippocampus and a thinner EC correlated with worse smell identification and worse memory.

Elevated levels of brain amyloid and thinner entorhinal cortex (EC), was significantly associated with worse olfactory function

“If further large-scale studies reproduce these results, a relatively inexpensive test such as odor identification may be able to identify subjects at increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease at a very early stage, and may be useful in identifying people at increased risk of cognitive decline more broadly.” Dr. Devanand said in a conference statement.

The Eyes Have It

AD has also been reported to affect the eyes, with some studies showing beta-amyloid plaques in the retinas of people with the disease.

Subjects in the study are given a proprietary supplement containing curcumin, which binds to beta-amyloid and has fluorescent properties that allow amyloid plaques to be detected in the eye using a novel system from NeuroVision Imaging, LLC.

A related study shows that a novel fluorescent ligand eye scanning (FLES) system that detects beta-amyloid in the lens of the eye using a topically-applied amyloid-binding ointment and a laser scanner might help spot AD early.

Paul D. Hartung of Cognoptix, Inc, reported results of a study involving 20 people with probable AD (including mild cases) and 20 age-matched healthy controls.

 

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