PNAS: 18F-FDG-PET could ID maternal family link to Alzheimers disease

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18F-FDG PET identified the average increase amyloid-beta plaques among individuals whose mothers had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease compared to others with no family history of dementia, according to research findings published online March 15 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 Lisa Mosconi, PhD, research assistant professor of psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues used PET with Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB) that highlights brain amyloid plaques to examine 42 healthy individuals.

Of these, 14 were included whose mothers had Alzheimer’s, 14 whose fathers had Alzheimer’s, and 14 counterparts with no family history of the disease.

On average, the first group of volunteers showed a 15 percent higher burden of amyloid-beta deposits than those with a paternal family history, and a 20 percent higher burden of the protein clumps  than those with no familial risk factors.

Mosconi suspects that a genetic mechanism is involved leading to increase in amyloid depositions. “At this point, we can only speculate that genes that are transmitted from parents, particularly mothers, to their children lead to amyloid depositions, which increase risk for developing dementia,” she said. The presence of plaques, however, does not necessarily mean an individual will develop Alzheimer’s.

Mosconi’s previous studies have shown an association based on reduced glucose metabolism in the brains of healthy adults whose mothers had Alzheimer’s disease.

“This imaging study further anchors the risk for Alzheimer’s disease associated with having a mother affected by the disease,” said co-author Mony J. de Leon, EdD, professor of psychiatry and director of the center for brain health at NYU Langone.

Of note, Mosconi cautioned that her team’s imaging technique is a potentially powerful research tool and is not ready for use as a diagnostic tool in the clinic.