Potential Biomarker Identified For Early Diagnosis Of MS

Researchers have identified a potential biomarker that can be used to diagnose for certain degenerative brain conditions such as multiple sclerosis. Certain changes exhibited by tissues located at the junction of the outer and inner layers of the brain called “blurring” may indicate the level of cognitive decline and may be used for early diagnosis of diseases like MS as well as develop new therapies for them. The findings of the study were published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

A team of researchers from the Department of Neurology at the NYU Langone Medical Center studied 32 healthy adults. An MRI scan of their brains were taken and with the images enhanced to show the junction between the “grey matter”, the area of the brain responsible for cognitive and motor functions, and the “white matter”, the area where myelin-insulated axon cells responsible for efficient transmission of electrical signals in the brain is found.

When neurons develop incorrectly among the axons, which can happen before birth or via brain trauma, they are visible on an MRI scan as “blurring” along the edge of the junction. Blurring has been associated with several impaired cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy. But it has never been identified in people without these conditions.

After taking the MRI scans, the researchers also conducted standardized intelligence tests that focused on the verbal, visual and spatial cognitive abilities of the participants, which are controlled by the brain’s left hemisphere. The researchers discovered that not only did blurring exist in brains without a degenerative brain condition, they also found out that there was also a strong relationship between the amount of blurring and the decreasing level of verbal language skills in a person.

“The findings are significant because this is the first time we have mapped the distinct relationship between blurring of the boundary in the left hemisphere, where verbal language skills are managed, and the impact that changes in this area have on cognitive ability,” explains Karen Blackmon, PhD., research assistant professor at the Department of Neurology at NYU Langone Medical Center and lead author of the study.

“The fact that this occurs in healthy brains and appears to be connected with a person’s cognitive function has significant implications for our ability to diagnose brain disease earlier and for the potential development of new therapies,” she further added.

Source: Medical News Today

 
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