Thinning Of Cortical Gray Matter Thickness Could Be An Indicator Of Onset Of Dementia, Study Shows

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Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio have discovered a potential breakthrough in dementia detection. Their study reveals that cortical gray matter, a specific brain tissue ribbon, tends to thin in individuals who later develop dementia. The thinning of this brain tissue may serve as an accurate biomarker, predicting dementia five to 10 years before symptoms manifest, according to the latest research.

Cortical gray matter thickness could predict onset of dementia

Dementia is a prevalent issue in the United States, impacting approximately six million Americans, and the numbers are expected to rise significantly in the future. Early detection is crucial for allowing dementia patients to maintain independence and receive better care. This advancement holds promise for enhancing the lives of numerous individuals in the years ahead.

The collaborative MRI brain imaging study, involving the University of California-Davis and Boston University, analyzed 1,000 participants from Massachusetts (Framingham Heart Study) and 500 from California, with 44% Black and Hispanic representation. The average age of both cohorts during the MRI studies was 70 to 74 years, with the Massachusetts group predominantly non-Hispanic White.

The study highlights the potential significance of cortical gray matter thickness as a marker for identifying individuals at high risk of dementia. Lead author Claudia Satizabal emphasizes that replicating these findings in additional samples could facilitate early detection of the disease, enabling timely therapeutic interventions and lifestyle modifications to mitigate progression to dementia.

Alzheimer’s is the most prevalent dementia type

Various forms of dementia affect the mind differently, targeting distinct brain regions. Alzheimer’s and frontotemporal dementia impact the cortex. Alzheimer’s, the most prevalent dementia type, was studied by comparing MRI results from participants with and without dementia over a 10-year period, aiming to identify patterns distinguishing future dementia development.

Longitudinal studies like those in Framingham and San Antonio, involving selfless participants, revealed consistent results across populations. Thicker brain ribbons correlated with better outcomes, while thinner ones indicated worse outcomes. Although further validation is needed, the biomarker’s relationship with dementia risk remained consistent across races and ethnic groups, providing a promising start.

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