New biomarker may help with early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease

A new biomarker may help identify which people with mild memory deficits will go on to develop Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study published in the June 22, 2011, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The biomarker may be more accurate than the currently established biomarkers.

"Being able to identify who will develop Alzheimer's disease very early in the process will be crucial in the future," said study author Robert Perneczky, MD, of the Technical University Munich in Germany. "Once we have treatments that could prevent Alzheimer's disease, we could begin to treat very early and hopefully prevent the and that occurs with this devastating disease."

The study involved 58 people with slight , or (MCI). Up to 15 percent of people with mild cognitive impairment develop Alzheimer's disease each year.

A sample of cerebrospinal fluid of the participants was taken at the beginning of the study through a , or spinal tap. The concentrations in the cerebrospinal fluid of several proteins that are associated with Alzheimer's disease were measured.

The participants were followed for nearly three years on average. At that point, 21 people had developed Alzheimer's disease, 27 still had mild cognitive impairment and eight people had reverted back to their normal cognitive health. Two people had developed frontotemporal dementia, and their results were not included in the analysis.

Researchers found that the people who developed Alzheimer's disease had significantly higher levels of a protein called soluble beta (sAPPβ) in their spinal fluid than those who did not develop Alzheimer's disease. Those who developed Alzheimer's disease had an average of 1,200 nanograms per milliliter, compared to 932 for those who did not develop the disease.

The researchers found that the best predictor of whether someone would develop Alzheimer's disease was a combination of sAPPβ, the tau protein (an established marker of brain cell damage) and the age of the individual. When these factors were combined, the results were roughly 80 percent accurate in predicting whether the disease would develop.

The protein amyloid beta1-42, or Aβ1-42, which has previously been considered a for Alzheimer's disease, was not a predictive factor in this study.

"These results suggest that sAPPβ as a biomarker may be useful and superior to the established marker Aβ1-42 in the early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease," Perneczky said.

"One possible explanation is that Aβ1-42 measures events further downstream from the initial steps that lead to the production of the amyloid plaques that accumulate in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. sAPPβ is a measure of the first critical step in that process and may therefore provide more accurate information on the core pathological events."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Education protects against pre-Alzheimer's memory loss

Oct 20, 2008

ST. PAUL, Minn. – People with more education and more mentally demanding occupations may have protection against the memory loss that precedes Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published in the October 21, 2008, ...

Recommended for you

Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D may control brain serotonin

10 hours ago

Although essential marine omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D have been shown to improve cognitive function and behavior in the context of certain brain disorders, the underlying mechanism has been unclear. In a new paper published ...

Researchers develop method for mapping neuron clusters

13 hours ago

A team of scientists has developed a method for identifying clusters of neurons that work in concert to guide the behavior. Their findings, which appear in the journal Neuron, address a long-standing mystery about the or ...

One brain area, two planning strategies

16 hours ago

Ready to strike, the spear fisherman holds his spear above the water surface. He aims at the fish. But he is misled by the view: Due to the refraction of light on the surface, he does not see the actual location ...

Study maps extroversion types in the brain's anatomy

Feb 26, 2015

Everyday experience and psychological studies alike tell us that there are two different types of extroverts: The gregarious "people-persons" who find reward in sharing affection and affiliation with others, ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.