Researchers recently examined how cells in the brains of people at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease make and use energy. Relationships between the brain’s energy metabolism and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease have been reported previously. But this is the first study to clearly distinguish different energy molecules in the brain using high-powered imaging called magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) at 7-Tesla. The findings from this study could help the development of tests for the earlier detection and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
This imaging technique allows scientists to look at how the human brain makes and uses energy at the cellular level. Other techniques are invasive, which is why until now most research on the brain’s energy metabolism has been conducted in deceased patients or in model organisms like mice.
The biggest finding is that the peaks from the magnetic resonance spectroscopy scan could be separated to look at the brain’s energy. The findings add a methodology for studying the early pathological biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease in patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment, a condition that sometimes leads to the development of the disease. Participants with higher brain energy metabolisms in their parieto-occipital lobes had poorer memory and attention skills.