Washington D.C.: In a recent study, researchers have identified a major connection between areas of the brainstem, the part that controls mood, sleep and metabolism and detrimental changes to bone in a preclinical model of Alzheimer's disease (AD).
Published in the upcoming issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, the study was conducted at the Northeast Ohio Medical University. More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease.
Along with being the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., Alzheimer's has major social, emotional and financial consequences for patients and their families.
Incurable and seemingly unstoppable, less than 5 percent of AD cases are due to a clear genetic reason, so it is hard to predict who will be at risk for acquiring this devastating disease. Lead author of the study Dengler-Crish reports that early reductions in bone mineral density (BMD) that occur in a preclinical model of AD are due to degeneration in an area of the brainstem that produces the majority of the brain's serotonin -- a neurochemical that controls mood and sleep, which are two processes that are also affected early in AD.
One's bones may be one of the earliest indicators of brain degeneration in Alzheimer's disease. Reduced BMD, which sometimes leads to osteoporosis, translates to increased bone fracture risk, decreased quality of life, and increased mortality for AD patients.
Furthermore, Dengler-Crish's research suggests that early bone loss and serotonin deficiency in AD may tell us something very important about how we approach diagnosing and treating this disease.
"Measurement of bone density, which is routinely performed in the clinic, could serve as a useful biomarker for assessing AD risk in our aging population. The findings of this study motivate us to explore the serotonin system as a potential new therapeutic target for this devastating disease," noted Crish....