It has previously been reported that the nerve growth factor (NGF) receptor trkA is depleted within the nucleus basalis, which is selectively damaged in early Alzheimer's disease. In a study presented this past Tuesday in a poster (Abstract 575.11), Yaping Chu and colleagues at Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center push back the time line for trkA loss to an earlier stage of disease progression. The researchers analyzed nucleus basalis tissue from 26 participants in the Religious Orders Study. All of the individuals had undergone clinical evaluation within 12 months of death. Roughly half of the individuals were categorized as having no cognitive impairment, and the rest had mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or mild Alzheimer's. The MCI and Alzheimer's individuals had a significant loss (15.8 percent and 20.4 percent, respectively) of trkA gene expression in the nucleus basalis, as compared with the control group. "These preliminary results suggest that a down-regulation of trkA mRNA occurs in early cognitive decline," the authors write.—June Kinoshita

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