A new study analyzed data from 79 cognitively normal adults in order to determine whether or not the cortical amyloid levels in the brain, one of the markers of preclinical Alzheimer's disease, was associated with self-reported loneliness.
AD is a cognitive impairment, which can sometimes lead to dementia and is most generally associated with cognitive and functional decline in patients.
According to the study, loneliness was associated with one of the markers of the future development of the disease, which makes lonely people experience an increased risk of suffering from the illness in later stages in life.
The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry and was conducted by Nancy J. Donovan, M.D., and co-authors. The methodology involved imaging as a means to measaure the cortical amyloid levels in the brain, compared to a scale of loneliness in the subjects. Of the 79 people, 43 were women and 36 were men; their average age was approximately 76 years old.
Among the patients, 22 (representing roughly 28 percent) carried a genetic risk factor, and 25 (an equivalent of 32 percent of the subjects) were in the amyloid-positive group, based on the volume found through imaging. The average score of the patients, on a scale of 3 to 12, was 5.3.
The authors of the study took into consideration a series of demographic characteristics such as age, sex, socioeconomic status, anxiety, social network and depression. The participants who were found in the positive group were 7.5 times more likely to be classified as lonely than not, compared to the ones who scored negative results on the tests.
However, the study had its limitation in the subjects' profiling technique. While the educational background and the intelligence level were taken into consideration as basic variables, characteristics such as socioeconomic and racial diversity were limited.
The association between loneliness and the cortical amyloid is meant to inform new researchers and to open a gate for new further correlations. The emotional and behavioral symptoms in cognitivel normal people was, however, associated with loneliness and the hypothesis of this factor's impact on Alzheimer development was proven through the research.
The research on Alzheimer's disease has become more popular among researchers. Among the newsest and most essential discoveries, the reversibility of the patients' memory has shed new light on the general understanding of the disease. As one of the most feared effects of AD is memory loss, being the one that leads to the better part of the cognitive impairment, associations between possible factors causing the disease and effective means to treat it are the main direction followed.