With the help of a noninvasive retinal scan, a team of neuroscientists at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has found that signs of Alzheimer's disease (AD) can be identified in the retina in the early stages of the disease. The research findings were published on August 17, 2017, in the Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI).
Depositions of amyloid plaque and tau protein buildup in the brain are considered hallmark signs of Alzheimer’s. Amyloid protein deposition also impacts the retina of the eye. Researchers have previously identified this toxic protein buildup in the retinas of deceased Alzheimer’s patients.
Currently, an AD diagnosis is verified through postmortem analysis. However, new methods and screenings, such as the noninvasive retinal scan method, may help pave the road to an earlier Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
Neuroscientists at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center used this noninvasive retinal scanning method, which was designed for the study. The retinal scan provided a more detailed view, enabling researchers to detect toxic protein buildup in the peripheral areas of the retina in Alzheimer’s patients. The amount of amyloid buildup often correlated with the accumulation of toxic protein found in patients’ brains, according to the study’s findings.
Researchers also incorporated the use of curcumin to help them identify amyloid depositions in the retina during the scan. Participants received a regimen of curcumin during the research project and an identifiable iridescence, or glimmer, occurred when amyloid accumulations came into contact with the curcumin.
According to a summary article published by Neuroscience News, NeuroVision Imaging, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the University of Southern California, and UCLA collaborated with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s study.
The use of a noninvasive and more cost-effective scanning system may facilitate timely screenings in the detection of early signs of Alzheimer’s. Positron emission tomography (PET) is often used to identify signs or markers of AD; however, this method can be expensive and uses radioactive material to detect indicators of the disease.
Innovations in Alzheimer’s disease detection are signaling new strides in making screenings more affordable and less invasive in early detection. An earlier diagnosis can help families and medical personnel meet the needs of patients with dementia.
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Resources and references:
- Retinal amyloid pathology and proof-of-concept imaging trial in Alzheimer’s disease; Cedars-Sinai Medical Center; Journal of Clinical Investigation, Insight (JCI); published online August 17, 2017; retrieved August 23, 2017, from https://insight.jci.org/articles/view/93621
- JCI Insight. 2017;2(16):e93621. doi:10.1172/jci.insight.93621.
- Cedars-Sinai Medical Center “Eye Test Could Predict Alzheimer’s Years Before Symptoms Appear.” NeuroscienceNews; NeuroscienceNews’ article published 18 August 2017; retrieved on August 22, 2017, fromhttp://neurosciencenews.com/alzheimers-eye-test-7330/