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Active Lifestyle May Slow Familial Frontotemporal Dementia

Slower cognitive decline seen even in patients with genetic risk for familial frontotemporal dementia

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 8, 2020 (HealthDay News) — A physically and mentally active lifestyle may protect against frontotemporal dementia even in people at established genetic risk, according to a study published in the January issue of Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

Kaitlin B. Casaletto, Ph.D., from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues evaluated for the first time how physical and cognitive activities relate to brain health in autosomal dominant frontotemporal lobar degeneration. The analysis included 105 mutation carriers (C9orf72/MAPT/GRN) and 69 noncarriers who completed longitudinal neurobehavioral assessments and brain magnetic resonance imaging.

The researchers found that greater physical and cognitive activities were each associated with an estimated >55 percent slower clinical decline per year among dominant gene carriers. In mutation carriers, there was an interaction noted between leisure activities and the relationship between frontotemporal atrophy and cognition. Compared with less active peers with comparable atrophy rates, high-activity carriers with frontotemporal atrophy had more than twofold better cognitive performances per year.

“We can see that lifestyle differences impact people’s resilience to frontotemporal lobar degeneration despite very penetrant genetics, so now we can start to ask more fundamental questions, like how these behaviors actually affect the brain’s biology to confer that resilience,” Casaletto said in a statement. “Is that biological effect something we could replicate pharmacologically to help slow the progression of this terrible disease for everyone?”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

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