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Study Reveals The Link Between Alzheimer’s Proteins And Mental Health Issues

Psychiatric symptoms In Alzheimer's Disease News

Mental Health News

Researchers at Lund University, Sweden, studied the link between pathological proteins and psychiatric symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The study is published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

The Study

Using the framework of the internationally renowned BioFINDER study, the researchers explored the complex relationship between neuropsychiatric symptoms, Alzheimer’s proteins, and changes in cognitive symptoms.

They conducted biennial neuropsychiatric assessments, for 8 years, of 356 cognitively unimpaired older adults enrolled in the Swedish BioFINDER study. fMRI and clinical scales (such as the Apathy Evaluation Scale and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) were used. White matter lesions and biomarkers (like the Alzheimer’s proteins amyloid beta and phosphorylated tau) in the cerebrospinal fluid or the plasma at the baseline were measured.

The Findings

The results revealed how elevated levels of amyloid beta drive the development of apathy and anxiety in the early stages of AD and that too largely independent of cognitive change. In a way, the study’s verdict argued against the popular notion that mental health issues in people with Alzheimer’s disease occur due to psychological reactions to cognitive decline. Instead, the findings highlighted how certain neuropsychiatric symptoms are early manifestations of the disease itself.

Drawing Inferences

The researchers were enthusiastic that this research can be used to develop effective study designs and interventions for memory disorders. In the words of one of the lead researchers, Professor Oskar Hansson, “Psychiatric symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease could be used as alternative outcome measures in treatment trials”, thereby contributing “to the established clinical diagnosis in the early stages of disease.”

To Know More You May Refer To

Johansson, M., Stomrud, E., Johansson, P. M., Svenningsson, A., Palmqvist, S., Janelidze, S., van Westen, D., Mattsson-Carlgren, N., & Hansson, O. (2022). Development of Apathy, Anxiety, and Depression in Cognitively Unimpaired Older Adults: Effects of Alzheimer’s Disease Pathology and Cognitive Decline. Biological psychiatry, S0006-3223(22)00053-1. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2022.01.012