Neurodegeneration in Ageing Down Syndrome (NiAD study)
We are part of an international project studying the onset of dementia in adults with Down’s syndrome.
People with Down’s syndrome are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and at an earlier age than the rest of the population. This is due to people with Down’s syndrome having an extra 21st chromosome. Therefore they are making more amyloid protein than people without Down’s syndrome and they are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s earlier. As people with Down’s syndrome are a high risk group for Alzheimer’s, we will be finding the biomarkers that may predict early onset dementia in this group. What we learn from people with Down’s syndrome may also help the general population.
We want to find a way to tell is someone is at risk of developing Alzheimer’s before the problems begin. We think we can learn who is at risk by studying biomarkers, looking at neuropathology, and genetic profiles and learning about family history. Finding out who is at risk is a first step in learning how we might prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
This longitudinal study is being run across 4 years with each participant visiting us every 16 months. Our participants have taken part in CT, MRI/PET brain scans, blood tests, neuropsychological tests and physical examinations. From the MRI scans we have collected information on brain thickness, brain blood flow and how well parts of the brain are connected to each other. The PET scans have provided information on the amount of amyloid plaques and tau tangles and how glucose is used in the brain. The blood tests have yielded information about genes and how fats and proteins in the body may be related to functioning. We then compare this information with any cognition and functioning changes. This will help us to identify which biomarkers may be related to Alzheimer’s disease.