Researchers have found that a person’s bones may act as one of the earliest indicators of brain degeneration in Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions.
The study showed that early reduction in bone mineral density that occur in a preclinical model of Alzheimer’s are due to degeneration in an area of the brainstem.
The brainstem is a region that controls mood, sleep and metabolism -- that produces the majority of the brain’s serotonin -- a neurochemical that controls our mood and sleep.
The reduced bone mineral density, which sometimes leads to osteoporosis, translates to increased bone fracture risk, decreased quality of life, and increased mortality for Alzheimer’s patients.
Further, early bone loss and serotonin deficiency in Alzheimer’s may tell us something very important about how we approach diagnosis and treatment, the researchers noted.
“Routine assessment of bone density could serve as a useful biomarker for Alzheimer’s risk in ageing population,” said lead author Christine Dengler-Crish, Assistant Professor at Northeast Ohio Medical University (Neomed) in the US.
“The findings of this study motivate us to explore the serotonin system as a potential new therapeutic target for this devastating disease,” Dengler-Crish added.
The study is forthcoming in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.