The relationship between retinal thickness and dementia: objective of the latest Fundació ACE study
The prestigious journal Alzheimer's Research & Therapy has recently published an article by the Fundació ACE Research Unit team, led by neurologist Marta Marquié, on the association between the thickness of the retina and the accumulation of the protein β-amyloid to the brain in people with Subjective Cognitive Impairment. This research is based on data from the FACEHBI cohort (ACE Healthy Brain Initivative Foundation) and the NORFACE study (Neuro-*ophtalmology Research at Fundació ACE), and is part of the Marie Skłodowka-Curie Action fellowship from the European Commission's Horizon2020 programme awarded to Dr. Marquié.
The research is based on the analysis of the relationship between the thickness of the retina measured using a non-invasive eye imaging technique (Optical Coherence Tomography, or OCT) and the levels of the protein β-amyloid in the brain quantified with a type of brain scan called PET-Florbetaben. To do this, the Research Unit Team have worked with a sample of 129 participants of the FACEHBI project who present Subjective Cognitive Impairment (that is, who have noticed a subjective worsening in their memory but obtain completely normal scores on a battery of cognitive tests according to their age and educational level).
The study concludes that subtle changes in the thickness of the retina in the macular region through OCT are observed in this group of people with Subjective Cognitive Impairment. Specifically, a thickening of the macula is associated with higher levels of amyloid protein in the brain. Precisely, the accumulation of this protein in the brain responds to the main hypothesis of the origin of Alzheimer's disease.
Another step towards early detection of Alzheimer's
However, research led by Dr. Marta Marquié indicates that there is still a long way to go to achieve an early diagnosis of Alzheimer's through this technique. The conclusions of this research represent a further step forward in the early detection of Alzheimer's, but more studies are still needed along these lines, following the evolution of the participants over a longer period of time and with a larger sample of the population.