Lewy Body Disease May Be More Common than Thought

Access to human brain tissue for medical research is more limited than most people realize is the case, and, for obvious reasons, far too little of the available tissue data covers the early stages of disease. This limitation is one of the factors slowing the pace of research into age-related neurodegenerative conditions. Here, for example, researchers make use of an unusual resource to show that the prevalence of Lewy body disease may be greater than presently thought, with pathology beginning in the 50s, even if there are no outright symptoms of disease at that stage.

Lewy body disease is the second most common brain degenerative disease after Alzheimer's disease. Lewy bodies, deposits of alpha-synuclein protein, are found in the brainstem, limbic system, and cerebral cortex. Similar tissue changes are also seen in patients clinically diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Lewy body disease can be difficult to recognise at the beginning of the disease, as it progresses slowly. Symptoms often include movement disturbances, memory problems, and psychiatric symptoms.

In their recent study, researchers investigated for the first time the occurrence of Lewy body disease markers in young and middle-aged subjects who were not known to suffer from Lewy body or Parkinson's diseases. In their study, the researchers used unique Finnish forensic autopsy data, which consists of approximately 600 people aged 16-95 who died outside hospitals. Previous similar studies have investigated the occurrence of the disease markers in people over 60 years old. The researchers found that Lewy body disease changes may begin to develop in the brain already in middle age, even if there are no actual symptoms yet.

Link: https://www.helsinki.fi/en/news/healthier-world/common-degenerative-brain-disease-may-begin-develop-already-middle-age

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