Predicting Future Cognitive Decline – Breakthrough

In Brain Disorders, Brain Science by Brainy Days Ahead

Predicting future cognitive problems is a major goal of doctors, researchers, and patients alike. Now a research team at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have discovered biomarkers which may help predict which Parkinson’s disease patients will suffer significant cognitive deficits within the first three years of their diagnosis. The research team analyzed data and samples from 423 new Parkinson’s disease patients who as yet showed no signs of dementia. Three years after enrollment in the study, between 15 and 38 percent of these participants had developed cognitive impairment. By assessing brain scans, genetic tests and analyses of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the researchers found that changes in the dopamine system, global brain atrophy, particular genetic mutations, and markers of Alzheimer’s disease were all predictors of future cognitive decline. The breakthrough study is the first to identify each of these biomarkers for Parkinson’s patients.