Leaky Blood-Brain Barrier Associated With Cognitive Decline in Early Alzheimer Disease

HealthDay News —  Patients in the early stages of Alzheimer disease (AD) may have more leakages in the blood-brain barrier (BBB), according to a study published online May 31 in Radiology.

The findings are based on 16 patients who’d been diagnosed with early AD, and 17 healthy adults the same age. Walter Backes, PhD, and colleagues, at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, used a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique to detect areas of brain leakage in each study participant.

The investigators found a significantly higher BBB leakage rate in the total gray matter and cortex for patients with AD. A significantly higher volume fraction of the leaking brain tissue in the gray matter, normal-appearing white matter, deep gray matter, and cortex was also observed in the same patients. The more leakage the study participants had in the brain’s deep gray matter and cortex, the worse the Mini-Mental State Examination scores.

“The results of this study showed global BBB leakage in patients with early Alzheimer’s disease that is associated with cognitive decline,” the authors write. “A compromised BBB may be part of a cascade of pathologic events that eventually lead to cognitive decline and dementia.” Backes and his colleagues also raise the possibility that MRI scans could help diagnose Alzheimer’s early, by detecting leaks.

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van de Haar HJ, Burgmans S, Jansen JF, et al. Blood-brain barrier leakage in patients with early Alzheimer disease. Radiology. 2016;31:152244.