With only 19 years and boy has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in a memory clinic in China, thus becoming the youngest person in whom this neurodegenerative disease has been detected. At the age of 17, the adolescent began to manifest memory leaks and with time its accentuated cognitive decline. When neurologists at the medical center took images of her brain, they discovered a contraction in the hippocampus, which is involved in memory, and they found markers of this type of dementia in her cerebrospinal fluid.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is generally associated with aging, but cases in people under 65 years of age account for around 10% of all diagnoses and familial Alzheimer’s usually appears before the age of 60 and can even affect people under 30 years of age. , although it is very rare. In fact, the younger the patient diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the more likely it is that its origin is a defective gene that you have inherited.
This patient began to manifest the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s two years before he was sent to the memory clinic. At first he had trouble concentrating in school, he began to have trouble reading and his short-term memory diminished so that he was often unable to remember the events of the previous day and misplaced his things. . Over time he lost more faculties and was unable to finish high school, although he was still able to carry out his daily activities independently.
Early Alzheimer’s without genetic origin
When researchers from the National Clinical Research Center for Geriatric Diseases in Beijing evaluated this young man, they found none of the mutations involved in early memory loss, nor no suspected gene when they analyzed its genome. In addition, no member of her family had suffered from Alzheimer’s or dementia. The patient, however, had no diseases, infections, or head injuries that could be related to his sudden cognitive deficit.
These scientists subjected the young man to more specific tests, specifically, an MRI revealed bilateral hippocampal atrophy and bilateral temporal lobe hypometabolism, while examination of his cerebrospinal fluid showed a increased concentration of tau protein, a biomarker of neurodegenerative diseases; in both cases these are characteristic signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers have published their findings in Journal of Alzheimer’s disease, where neurologist Jianping Jia and colleagues write: “The patient had very early-onset AD with no clear pathogenic mutations,” “suggesting that its pathogenesis remains to be explored.” According to these experts, this case shows that Alzheimer’s does not follow a single path and is much more complex than previously thought.
In a statement to South China Morning Post, have suggested that future studies should focus on early-onset cases to improve our understanding of memory loss. “Exploring the mysteries of young people with Alzheimer’s disease may become one of the most challenging scientific questions of the future,” they say.