Retinal Amyloid Imaging for Detecting Alzheimer Progression

  • Alzheimer Disease
  • Amyloid
  • Neuro-ophthalmology

A clinical study has that amyloid ß levels in certain regions in the retina correlated with hippocampal volume loss and cognitive decline. The findings may help physicians predict changes in the brain as well as cognitive deterioration, even for patients experiencing mild impairment.

Results of the study were published in Alzheimer's & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring, are from a clinical trial involving people more than age 40 (n=34) who showed signs of cognitive decline.

In the trial, investigators used a noninvasive technique, sectoral retinal amyloid imaging, which uses amyloid‐binding fluorophore curcumin and laser ophthalmoscopy to capture amyloid distribution on retinal images. Retinal amyloid count (RAC) and area in the superotemporal retinal subregions was inversely correlated with hippocampal volume (HV; r = ‐0.39, P=.04). The proximal mid‐periphery (PMP) RAC and area were also significantly larger in individuals with cognitive deficits (Montreal Cognitive [MOCA] score <26; P=.01; Cohen d=0.83 and 0.81, respectively). 

The results show promise for diagnosing and treating AD. "We found that increased levels of retinal amyloid-ß peptides correlated with levels found in brain tissues, even in the latest stages of AD,” said Maya Koronyo-Hamaoui, PhD, associate professor of Neurosurgery and Bbiomedical sciences, Cedars-Sinai. " These clues can occur very early on in the progression of AD—several decades before symptoms appear. Detecting these signs can help diagnose the disease more accurately, allowing for earlier and more effective treatment intervention."

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