Typical Alzheimer Patterns Less Salient in Very-Old

Alzheimer's-related cognitive and morphometric changes are less clear in very-old versus young-old

THURSDAY, Aug. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Certain cognitive and morphometric brain abnormalities associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) are less salient in very-old patients than in young-old patients, according to a study published online Aug. 10 in Neurology.

Nikki H. Stricker, Ph.D., from the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, and colleagues investigated whether age-standardized brain morphometric and cognitive profiles differ between young-old (aged 60 to 75 years) and very-old (aged 80 to 91 years) patients with early AD. In 105 patients with AD, separated into young-old and very-old subgroups, and 125 healthy control individuals, areas known to be affected by AD were measured for hippocampal volume and cortical grey matter thickness. Patients with AD and the healthy controls were standardized to their age-appropriate subgroups and brain morphometric and cognitive scores were compared.

The investigators found that, compared with the young-old with AD, the very-old with AD had less-abnormal cognitive profiles, including executive function, immediate memory, and attention or processing speed. They also had less severe cortical thinning in the left posterior cingulate cortex, right lateral temporal cortex, bilateral parietal cortex, and overall cortex, compared to the young-old with AD.

"The typical pattern of AD-related cognitive and morphometric changes seen in the young-old appear to be less salient in the very-old," the authors write. "Mild cases of AD in the very-old may go undetected if one expects to see the prototypical pattern and severity of cognitive or brain changes that occur in the young-old with AD."

Two authors disclosed financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry. Data collection and sharing for this study was funded by the AD Neuroimaging Initiative which is supported by grants from the pharmaceutical industry.

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