Brain volume can help predict who develops dementia with Lewy bodies

4th Nov 2016

A new study published in Neurology, shows that a lack of shrinkage in the area of the brain called the hippocampus may be a sign that people with thinking and memory problems could develop dementia with Lewy bodies (like Parkinson's) rather than Alzheimer's disease. 

Lewy bodies are protein deposits that develop in nerve cells in regions of the brain involved in thinking, memory and movement. 

160 participants with mild cognitive impairments took part in the study, each having an MRI brain scan of their hippocampus size over a couple of years. During the experiment, 38% developed Alzheimer's disease and 13% progressed to probable dementia with Lewy bodies. They could only be reported as 'probable' because Lewy bodies dementia can only be confirmed by autopsy after death.

They found that people who had no shrinkage in the hippocampus were 5.8 times more likely to develop probable dementia with Lewy bodies than those who had atrophy of the hippocampus. 85% of people who developed dementia with Lewy bodies had a normal hippocampus size, whereas 61% of Alzheimer's disease patients had hippocampus atrophy.

The relationship of hippocampus volume and type of disease was stronger among participants without memory issues.

To read more, please visit Neurology website

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