Neurodegeneration in Aging Down Syndrome, Adult Study

Neurodegeneration in Aging Down Syndrome (NiAD)

Protocol Description

The purpose of this observational study is to use brain imaging and cognitive testing to measure amyloid plaque deposits in the brains of healthy patients with Down syndrome. Individuals with Down syndrome have an extra chromosome number 21, which is also the chromosome responsible for production of amyloid. Amyloid plaques can build in the brain and are related to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. Because of the extra chromosome 21, people with Down syndrome may develop amyloid deposits much earlier than people without Down syndrome. Researchers will use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography, more commonly known as a PET scan, along with other tests, which may prove to be predictive of increased risk for development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Eligibility Criteria

Subject to certain exclusion criteria, this study is open to men and women age 25 years and older who have been diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

Males: 25 and up
Females: 25 and up


The study will consist of four visits over a 4 year period at the John Merck Outpatient Center in the South Side of Pittsburgh. Each visit will take approximately two days to complete. A relative or caregiver will complete a set of questionnaires while the adult with Down Syndrome undergoes a physical examination and completes a range of cognitive tests. Some of the visits will also include an MRI and PET scans. In addition, there will be a blood draw.

Visits: 4
Duration: 2 days
Location Address: 
John Merck Outpatient Center, 10th St. and Bingham St. Pittsburgh, PA 15203

Status: Open for Enrollment

Source(s) of Support

Additional Information

Participants will be compensated for their time and expenses. Funds are available for participants and caregivers who reside a distance from Pittsburgh to stay overnight.

Primary Investigator

Cathy Wolfe
Project Coordinator

Contact Information

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Cathy Wolfe, M.Ed., BCBA
Project Coordinator