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Your Bones May Be Able To Predict If You Will Have Alzheimer's, Research Shows

By Christie Abagon , Dec 06, 2016 12:12 AM EST
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Your bones may indicate brain degeneration in Alzheimer's, new research suggests.  A study conducted by Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) researchers show that there is a link between areas of the brainstem - the part that controls mood, sleep and metabolism - and detrimental changes in a preclinical model of Alzheimer's.

Bone Loss And Serotonin Deficiency In Alzheimer's Is Key In Diagnosing Alzheimer's

Lead author of the study, Christine Dengler-Crish, assistant professor at NEOMED, said that early bone loss and serotonin deficiency in Alzheimer's can tell us something about how the disease is diagnosed. 

"Measurement of bone density, which is routinely performed in the clinic, could serve as a useful biomarker for assessing AD risk in our aging population. The findings of this study motivate us to explore the serotonin system as a potential new therapeutic target for this devastating disease," Crish said.

According to the study, the early reductions in bone mineral density (BMD) that occurs in preclinical Alzheimer's are due to degeneration in the brainstem that produces majority of the brain's serotonin.  Reduced BMD sometimes leads to osteoporosis, which translates to bone fracture risk, therefore increasing the mortality rate for Alzheimer's patients.

Alzheimer's Is A Killer And The Disease Cannot Be Prevented

An estimated 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer's.  Among people aged 71, 61 percent of Alzheimer's patients are expected to die before they turn 80 years old.  Alzheimer's is the only disease among the top 10 causes of death in the US that cannot be prevented.  This new research about the link between bone changes and preclinical Alzheimer's is very important in how the disease is approached.

"Routine assessment of bone density could serve as a useful biomarker for Alzheimer's risk in ageing population. The findings of this study motivate us to explore the serotonin system as a potential new therapeutic target for this devastating disease," Dengler-Crish added.  

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