Alzheimer’s disease has become a silent tsunami in the aging population. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disease of the brain leading to the irreversible loss of neurons and the loss of intellectual abilities, including memory and reasoning, which become severe enough to impede social or occupational functioning. Alzheimer’s disease is also known as simply Alzheimer’s, and Senile Dementia of the Alzheimer Type (SDAT). During the course of the disease plaques and tangles develop within the structure of the brain. This causes brain cells to die. Patients with Alzheimer’s also have a deficiency in the levels of some vital brain chemicals which are involved with the transmission of messages in the brain – neurotransmitters.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. The disease gets worse as it develops – it is a progressive disease. There is no current cure for Alzheimer’s, although there are ways of slowing down its advance and helping patients with some of the symptoms. New and accurate techniques for early diagnosis of Alzheimer are critical. There is a completely non-invasive brain imaging technique to measure specific brain chemical changes. This provides a signature of the early stages of AD from the hippocampal region of the brain. This diagnostic technique that requires no blood work or radiation, and that can be conducted in less than fifteen minutes, may offer hope to Alzheimer’s disease patients and their families. If the brains of normal controls, AD patients, and patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are studied using multi-voxel 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) imaging, along with an advanced analytical tool, to assess brain chemistry in the hippocampal regions, it can be seen that the left hippocampus becomes alkaline in AD patients, which is in contrast to the normal aging process in which the brain tends to be more acidic.
There are four brain chemicals that change significantly in pre-Alzheimer and Alzheimer disease patients compared to normal subjects. They are phosphomonoester (PME), the building block of neuronal membrane; phosphodiester (PDE), the membrane degradation product; phosphocreatine (PCr), stored energy for brain functioning; and adenosine triphosphate (-ATP), the source of brain energy. The level of PME is significantly decreased in the left hippocampal areas of these patients, and the levels of PDE, PCr and –ATP are increased. Using such state-of-the-art technology, may give new hope to cognitively impaired patients for an earlier and more predictable AD diagnosis. Further, early diagnose may help to reduce the cost of the disease too. AD is one of the most costly diseases to society