Do old patients with Down’s syndrome develop premature brain atrophy?

  • D. Ehrmann
  • P. Stoeter
Part of the Key Topics in Brain Research book series (KEYTOPICS)


Evaluation of the clinical course and of CT examinations of 20 patients with Down’s syndrome over 40 years of age showed a secondary clinical deterioration in cerebral performance in 5 patients, with significant cerebral atrophy in CT in 4 of them. In the others, the only significant difference to a control group of 40 patients of the same age were age-dependent atrophic changes of the temporal lobes. These findings which are similar to the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease support the idea of a common genetic defect of both conditions

A common genetic defect is discussed in trisomy 21 and Alzheimer’s disease because of similar degenerative changes on post-mortem brain examinations and a reduced activity of the neurotransmitter system. But not every patient with Down’s syndrome (DS) becomes demented and CT studies were not able to show significant or increasing cerebral atrophy up to the age of 40 (Ieshima et al., 1984). In the present study, the degree of cerebral atrophy in DS of older age is correlated to the clinical course.


Cerebral Atrophy Cerebellar Vermis Cerebral Peduncle Temporal Horn Common Genetic Defect 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ieshima A, Kisa T, Yoshino K, Takashima S, Takeshita K (1984) A morphometric CT study of Down’s syndrome showing small posterior fossa and calcification of basal ganglia. Neuroradiology 26: 493–498PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Nagata K, Basugi N, Fukushima T, Tango T, Suzuki I, Kaminuma T, Kurashina S (1987) A quantitative study of physiological cerebral atrophy with aging. A statistical analysis of the normal range. Neuroradiology 29: 327–332PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. St George-Hyslop PH, Tanzi RE, Polinsky RJ, et al (1987) The genetic defect causing familial Alzheimer’s disease maps on chromosome 21. Science 235: 885–890PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Wisniewski KE, Wisniewski HM, Wen GY (1985) Occurrence of neuorpathological changes and dementia of Alzheimer’s disease in Down’s syndrome. Ann Neurol 17: 278–282PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Ehrmann
    • 1
  • P. Stoeter
    • 1
  1. 1.Stiftung Liebenau and Elisabethen-KankenhausRavensburgFederal Republic of Germany

Personalised recommendations