The experts studied 105 individuals in their 70s and 80s with no signs of mental deterioration. They closely observed those with a high and low levels of the protein cerebrospinal fluid amyloid, which is known to be reduced in the spinal fluid of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s.
MRI scans were then used to identify any brain shrinkage, which again is another indicator of dementia and lastly they checked for gene AP0E4 which is another high risk indicator.
The results showed that a third of the participants had low levels of amyloid in their spinal fluid and also that their brains shrank at double the rate of the other group.
In addition, they were five times as likely to possess the AP0E4 gene and had higher levels of the Alzheimer’s protein tau.
Lead author of the study, Dr Jonathan Schott, said: ‘The significance of these findings will only be clear with longer clinical follow-up, but may suggest that these individuals are at increased risk of developing dementia.
The research team hopes that tests such as these could eventually lead to an early indication of Alzheimer’s risk and may mean treatments can be given when they might be more effective.