Researchers have defined and established criteria for a new neurological disease in people that have symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease, but lack the amyloid plaque in the brain that is considered a hallmark of that disease.
The newly coined disease is called primary age-related tauopathy (PART). Patients with PART have symptoms of cognitive impairment synonymous with Alzheimer’s, but only have another type of protein in the brain called tau that can contribute to memory loss when it malfunctions.
A study led by Peter T. Nelson, MD, PhD, of the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, and John F. Crary, MD, PhD, of the Department of Pathology & Neuroscience at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, argues that patients who have tau “tangles” but not detectable amyloid plaque should be classified as PART. The study was published in the journal Acta Neuoropathologica.
“Until now, PART has been difficult to treat or even study because of lack of well-defined criteria,” Nelson said in a statement. “Now that the scientific community has come to a consensus on what the key features of PART are, this will help doctors diagnose different forms of memory impairment early.
The researchers say that making the correct neurological disorder diagnosis is important as PART patients may have skewed results in Alzheimer’s drug trials targeting amyloid. In addition, it could lead to PART patients receiving more targeted therapies in the future.
Recent diagnostic tests and biomarkers found in cerebral spinal fluid indicate that a large percentage of patients with mild cognitive impairment — as high as 25% in some studies — may have PART considering they have tau protein but no amyloid.
Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks, according to the National Institute on Aging. In most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first…
A multi-institutional study has defined and established criteria for a new neurological disease closely resembling Alzheimer’s disease called primary age-related tauopathy (PART). Patients with PART develop cognitive impairment that can be indistinguishable from Alzheimer’s disease, but they lack amyloid plaques.
Awareness of this neurological disease will help doctors diagnose and develop more effective treatments for patients with different types of memory impairment.
The study, co-led by Peter T. Nelson, MD, PhD, of the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, and John F. Crary, MD, PhD, of Mount Sinai Hospital, was published in the current issue of Acta Neuoropathologica.