A team led by the Barcelonaßeta Brain Research Center (BBRC), a research center of the Pasqual Maragall Foundation (northeast of Spain), developed through artificial intelligence a new biomarker associated with Alzheimer’s indicating accelerated brain aging.
Chronological age (the time since birth) and biological brain age may not match, and the latter parameter can be calculated from neuroimaging techniques to determine whether the brain has aged more rapidly than expected.
Certain morphological characteristics, such as an altered thickness or volume in specific regions of the brain, act as biomarkers, that is, they are objective measures that provide information about this ageing.
For this study, the researchers used a machine learning model, powered by artificial intelligence, to analyze these parameters from 22,600 MRI images obtained from the UK Biobank, a large-scale biomedical database containing genetic and health information. half a million UK participants.
Thanks to this image analysis, the researchers were able to validate a new biomarker that made it possible to demonstrate, for the first time, that the presence of pathological changes in Alzheimer’s disease is associated with accelerated brain aging, even in cognitively healthy people.
The results of the study, which have been published in the scientific journal Elife, help to better understand the relationship between the brain aging process and neurodegenerative diseases.
“Although age is the main risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and most neurodegenerative diseases, the biological mechanisms that explain this association are still poorly understood”explains Irene Cumplido, predoctoral researcher in the BBRC Neuroimaging Research Group and first author of the paper.
“For the study of age, it is necessary to have objective markers of biological brain aging, beyond chronological age, just as biomarkers are available for Alzheimer’s”points out.
The new biomarker of accelerated brain aging joins other indicators of the disease and already known risk factors, such as the presence of beta amyloid and tau proteins or the APOE-e4 genotype).
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