Education Level, History of Brain Injury Linked with Frontotemporal Dementia Risk

Education Level, History of Brain Injury Linked with Frontotemporal Dementia Risk

Frontemporal dementia (FTD) is rare and tends to affect younger people than other forms of dementia do. In fact, about 60% of patients are between the ages of 45 and 64. The disease is caused by damage to neurons in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain and can cause issues including unusual behaviors, emotional problems, trouble communicating, and difficulty with work. There are genetic mutations that increase a person's risk of FTD, but new research has shone light on non-genetic factors linked with the disease.

Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland recently examined medical data from patients with FTD over two studies, one looking at modifiable factors associated with the development of the disease and one examining the impact of traumatic brain injury.

The first, published in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, involved data from more than 1,000 patients with the most common subtypes of FTD. They also included patients with Alzheimer's and a control group without neurodegenerative conditions.

After analyzing data from these participants, the team found that FTD patients had, on average, lower education levels than those with Alzheimer's. Further, FTD patients without genetic risks had lower education attainment than FTD patients with genetic mutations. The team says the findings indicate that patients with and without genetic mutations have different risk factors overall.

The second study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and focused on how a prior traumatic brain injury impacts the risk of FTD. It also included healthy patients, those with FTD, and those with Alzheimer's. While conducting this research, the team discovered that a history of brain injury was not only linked with an increased risk of FTD, but it was also associated with an earlier development of the disease. The researchers say their findings indicate that these injuries may trigger certain neurodegenerative processes.

The team feels that both studies may be helpful for those with risk factors.

Helmi Soppela, lead author of both studies and doctoral researcher at the University of Eastern Finland, explains, “These results offer a better understanding of the disease mechanisms and, possibly in the future, an opportunity to prevent frontotemporal dementia."

According to the National Institute on Aging, the cause of most cases of FTD is unknown. However, genetics are responsible for many cases, including 10 to 30% of behavioral variant FTD.

Michelle Milliken

Michelle has a journalism degree and has spent more than seven years working in broadcast news. She's also been known to write some silly stuff for humor websites. When she's not writing, she's probably getting lost in nature, with a fully-stocked backpack, of course.

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