News Release 

Brain regions with impaired blood flow have higher tau levels

As Alzheimer's disease progresses, more brain regions exhibit the relationship

Society for Neuroscience

Research News

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IMAGE: Brain regions with a negative correlation between blood flow and tau. Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment on the left, cognitively normal on the right. view more 

Credit: Albrecht et al., JNeurosci 2020

In Alzheimer's disease, impaired blood flow to brain regions coincides with tau protein buildup. This relationship strengthens as cognition declines, according to new research published in JNeurosci.

Vascular function declines and amyloid-β and tau protein accumulate as Alzheimer's disease progresses, resulting in neuron death. Like the proverbial chicken and egg, it remains unclear if impaired blood flow causes or is caused by errant protein buildup, or if the two symptoms occur for unrelated reasons.

Albrecht et al. used MRI and PET to compare blood flow and tau buildup in the brains of older adults, with cognition ranging from cognitively normal to showing signs of mild cognitive impairment. Areas with increased tau levels had diminished blood flow, particularly in the inferior temporal gyrus, one of the first regions to show tau buildup in Alzheimer's disease, even before cognitive symptoms manifest. The relationship held true for a separate data pool from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, which included people with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's dementia. The correlation between tau and vascular function was stronger in people with greater cognitive impairment and higher amyloid-β levels. It also appeared in more brain regions as the disease progressed in severity. These findings suggest targeting vascular function could be key to preventing and treating Alzheimer's dementia.

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Manuscript title:
Associations Between Vascular Function and Tau PET are Associated with Global Cognition and Amyloid

About JNeurosci

JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today, the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact, while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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