19-year-old becomes the youngest patient with an ALZHEIMER diagnosis
A teenager from China has become the world’s youngest patient to be given a probable diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
The 19-year-old, who is believed to be from Beijing, has had symptoms for two years, including memory loss, trouble concentrating, delayed reactions and reading difficulties.
When he visited doctors at Capital Medical University in Beijing, he could not remember events from just a day before, including where he put his personal belongings or whether he ate. He could not complete his education and had to drop out of high school.
Tests and scans revealed his hypothalamus, the part of the brain implicated in neurodegenerative diseases, had atrophied. He also showed damage to his temporal lobe and elevated levels of a protein called tau, both hallmarks of Alzheimer’s.
Doctors who released the case report last month met with the teenager to get to the bottom of the cause of his symptoms. They were puzzled to later find out he had no family history or the genetic mutation that often dictates a diagnosis of dementia.
They said: “This is the youngest case ever reported as meeting the diagnostic criteria for probable [Alzheimer’s disease] with no recognized genetic mutations.”
A 19-year-old man from China has become the world’s youngest patient thought to have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The case report turns the traditional notion of Alzheimer’s as a disease of old age on its head [Stock image]
Alzheimer’s typically affects people over the age of 65. Diagnoses before the age of 65 account for about five to ten percent of all Alzheimer’s cases.
When the disease strikes people aged 30 and younger, a genetic mutation is usually to blame.
Previously, the youngest person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s was 21 and had a genetic mutation. There were several other unusual early diagnoses. For example, Jordan Adams, from Worcestershire, England, was diagnosed at the age of 24.
Daniel Bradbury, also from England, was diagnosed at 30 and has since passed away. And Rebecca Doig, an Australian, was diagnosed at 31 and has also died.
The Beijing team’s findings build on a growing body of scientific studies into faster diagnostic methods that can spot telltale signs of the disease years before symptoms appear.
The researchers’ findings challenge the traditional understanding of Alzheimer’s as a disease of old age.
Said: ‘[The study] suggested paying attention to early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
“Unlocking the mysteries of young people with Alzheimer’s disease could become one of the most challenging scientific questions of the future.”
The case study was published January 31 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Although they were unable to perform a brain biopsy due to the risk the procedure poses to the patient, the researchers performed a battery of diagnostic tests to identify biomarkers of the disease the man suffered from.
They performed a series of cognitive tests that required the patient to hear and repeat a series of words with a short or long delay. They concluded that his memory was “significantly” impaired.
Further brain imaging revealed that his hippocampus, which is responsible for memory, had atrophied. Hippocampal atrophy is typically attributed to the accumulation of tau protein, which builds up in neurons, and buildup of plaques in the brain caused by Alzheimer’s disease.
They also tested the patient’s cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), in which they found abnormally high levels of the protein p-tau181, a well-established biomarker of Alzheimer’s dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by an accumulation of abnormal neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. This leads to a gradual decline in memory, thinking, behavior, and social skills
To rule out the possibility that the teenager was genetically predisposed to developing dementia, scientists performed full genome sequencing, a laboratory procedure that reveals a person’s complete DNA composition.
While they found evidence of plaques in the patient’s CSF, the researchers could not identify the hallmark amyloid plaques and elevated tau levels in the brain.
Even though these biomarkers were not present, the researchers believed that the diagnosis of an Alzheimer’s attack because increased CSF tau may be a precursor to the formation of tau tangles in the brain.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, affecting between six and seven million Americans. The condition is chronic and worsens over time, with people typically being killed between three and 11 years after initial diagnosis.
But Alzheimer’s can remain in the shadows for years without manifesting symptoms in what researchers call preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. During this phase, which can last for decades, no one can see any symptoms.
Neuroscientists have been working diligently for years to develop an Alzheimer’s diagnostic tool that can detect the disease earlier, such as an inexpensive blood test that can detect brain-specific nerve cell damage to measure neurodegeneration. Earlier diagnosis opens the door to earlier treatment and increases the patient’s chances of survival.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk
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