19-Year-Old Receives Earliest Alzheimer’s Diagnosis on Record

19-Year-Old Receives Earliest Alzheimer's Diagnosis on Record

(RightWing.org) – Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a brain disorder that gradually slows an individual’s memory and thinking capacity and, eventually, their ability to complete simple tasks. Late-onset AD is the most common form of the disorder, and symptoms typically don’t present until people reach their mid-60s. Early-onset AD (EOAD) is rare, only accounting for about 5% to 10% of all cases, according to a recent study. A new research paper details the earliest diagnosis of AD on record.

On January 31, the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease published a report discussing the case of a 19-year-old adolescent recently diagnosed with “probably AD.” Jia Jianping, M.D, Ph.D, a neurologist and professor at the Beijing Institute for Brain Disorders, led the team of 10 researchers.

The unnamed Chinese male patient presented a “gradual memory decline” over two years. A standard auditory verbal learning test developed by the World Health Organization and the University of California, Los Angeles, confirmed cognitive loss. Other tests showed atrophy of the hippocampus and bilateral temporal lobe hypometabolism.

In lay-person terms, the teenage patient suffered from decreased function in the portions of the brain responsible for learning and memory (hippocampus) and processing auditory input and encoding memory (temporal lobe). The temporal lobe is also believed to play a significant role in the processing of language functions, emotions, and some aspects of visual perception. As a result of these, and other tests, the team concluded the subject suffered from EOAD.

Researchers also detected an increased level of p-tau181 in the patient’s cerebrospinal fluid, a biomarker for AD that provides a means of predicting preclinical forms of the disease. Similarly, they found a decreased amyloid-β 42/40 ratio, another marker found in the early stages of AD before clinical dementia occurs. However, whole-genome sequencing failed to identify any known mutations, indicating no genetic predisposition for developing AD.

Incredibly, this is the youngest case on record of an individual with a probable AD diagnosis without a genetic mutation or family history of the disease.

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