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From: TSS ()
Subject: Mayo Clinic Study Identifies Potential Causes of Young-Onset Dementia
Date: April 16, 2008 at 2:10 pm PST

Mayo Clinic Study Identifies Potential Causes of Young-Onset Dementia

ROCHESTER, Minn., April 15, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new Mayo
Clinic study found that young-onset dementia often is caused by
neurodegenerative or autoimmune/inflammatory conditions, but only rarely by
Alzheimer's disease. This differs substantially from the common causes of
dementia in older individuals (Alzheimer's disease and other
neurodegenerative dementias). These findings will be presented at the
American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting in Chicago on April 15.

Dementia represents a progressive decline in a person's cognitive
function that affects the ability to think, speak, reason, remember and
move. The most common forms of dementia are Alzheimer's disease, vascular
dementia and Lewy body dementia. Approximately 12 in 100,000 people may
develop dementia prior to age 45, called young-onset dementia.

"After seeing several patients in their 20s who had graduated from
college and were suddenly experiencing severe dementia, I wanted to try to
provide answers as to what was causing dementia at such young ages," says
Brendan Kelley, M.D., an author of this study and a neurologist at Mayo

Dr. Kelley and a team of Mayo Clinic physicians set out to identify the
characteristics and causes of dementia prior to age 45. They identified 235
individuals, ages 17 to 45, who previously had normal cognitive function
and were evaluated for progressive cognitive decline at Mayo Clinic from
1996 to 2006. In one-third of patients, the dementia was caused by a
neurodegenerative disorder such as frontotemporal dementia, Huntington's
disease or familial prion disease. However, Alzheimer's disease was an
uncommon cause. In 20 percent of patients, young-onset dementia was caused
by autoimmune or inflammatory conditions such as multiple sclerosis,
autoimmune encephalopathy or neuropsychiatric lupus. According to Dr.
Kelley, this is an important finding, because many of these diseases may
have specific treatments.

Additionally, 10 percent had metabolic disorders commonly thought to
occur mainly in children. In 19 percent of the patients, the cause of
young-onset dementia remained unknown despite thorough and exhaustive

"This study sheds light on the fact that young people do, in fact,
develop dementia, and that there are important differences between the
causes of young-onset dementia and the causes of dementia in older
individuals," says Dr. Kelley. "However, more research is required to
better understand the characteristics and most effective treatments for
young patients with dementia."

Brad Bishop is one of the patients who influenced Dr. Kelley to pursue
this research. Bishop, age 27, was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia
in 2006. According to his parents, he was an energetic, thoughtful, caring
and intelligent young man who graduated from college in 2004 with a double
major in business and computers. His symptoms of dementia started around
age 21, including withdrawal from people outside his family, inappropriate
behavior, poor financial judgment and progressive decline in cognitive
function. Now, Bishop needs around-the-clock care as his brain continues to

"We are seeing our son disappear before our eyes, little bit by little
bit," says Susan Bishop, his mother. "We'll always hope for a miracle, but
realistically we just want Brad to be safe, happy, comfortable and treated
with the dignity and respect that he deserves...every day we have with him
is a gift."

Dr. Kelley and his team will continue to learn more by prospectively
following patients like Bishop to better understand what causes early-onset
dementia. Other members of the Mayo Clinic research team included Bradley
Boeve, M.D., and Keith Josephs, M.D.

To obtain the latest news releases from Mayo Clinic, go to (
is available as a resource for your health stories.

Alzheimer's and CJD

Friday, March 21, 2008
Association between Deposition of Beta-Amyloid and Pathological Prion
Protein in Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
Original Paper


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