There is a connection between impaired blood flow and the build-up of tau protein in patients who have Alzheimer’s disease, according to findings revealed on MRI and PET scans.

In a study published Oct. 12 in the Journal of Neuroscience,a team of investigators from the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles shed more light onto the vascular component of Alzheimer’s, noting that their findings point to the potential of a combination treatment.

“Our results demonstrate vascular-tau association across the [Alzheimer’s disease] spectrum and suggest that early vascular-tau associations are exacerbated in the presence of amyloid, consistent with a two-hit model of [Alzheimer’s disease] on cognition,” said the team led by Daniel Albrecht, Ph.D., a neuroimaging research fellow. “Combination treatments targeting vascular health, as well as amyloid-β and tau levels, may preserve cognitive function more effectively than single-target therapies.”

Read more at Diagnostic Imaging and in the Journal of Neuroscience

Featured image: These images show brain regions with a negative correlation between blood flow and tau. Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment on the left, cognitively normal on the right. (Courtesy: Albrecht et al., Journal of Neuroscience)