Biological fingerprints improve diagnosis of dementia

Differentiating between the various forms of dementia is crucial for initiating appropriate treatment. Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy have discovered that the underlying diseases leave different "fingerprints" in the cerebrospinal fluid, paving the way for more reliable diagnoses.

The two most common forms of dementia are Alzheimer's disease and . The latter is caused by reduced circulation in the small blood vessels of the brain, which can be picked up in as small infarcts -- strokes -- or widespread changes in the white matter. The problem is that this small vessel disease presents very similarly to Alzheimer's disease, making it difficult in practice to distinguish between the two.

Biochemical fingerprints in CSF

Because the different diseases are treated differently, it is important to be able to make the . Researcher Maria Bjerke from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg has shown in her thesis that the different forms of dementia are detectable as in the (CSF) long before any clinical symptoms emerge. The results are significant for how the most common age-related cognitive disorders are diagnosed.

Step towards better treatment

"As the CSF is in direct contact with the brain, its can be expected to reflect the brain's metabolism," Bjerke explains. "Examining the molecular fingerprints in the CSF enables us to determine whether or not there is an ongoing pathological process".

"Mapping the biochemical differences between the various forms of dementia will help us to understand what caused the disease, which in turn will determine how the disease should be treated."

The possibility of differentiating between patients with mild cognitive disorders due to small vessel disease and patients with Alzheimer's needs to be given much greater attention, Bjerke believes, not least with a view to designing and implementing detailed treatment studies.

More information: The thesis Cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers for differentiating between Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia was successfully defended on 9 June 2011.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New clues to the cause of Alzheimer's disease

Jun 30, 2011

Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, have identified a series of novel proteins in human cerebrospinal fluid. The proteins, which carry specific sugar molecules, are found in greater concentrations ...

Education helps against dementia

May 31, 2010

Researchers have discovered that education not only delays the early symptoms of dementia, but can also slow down the development of the disease - a finding that could result in faster diagnosis and treatment of dementia, ...

Recommended for you

Asthma drug may help those with chronic hives

13 hours ago

(HealthDay)—A drug already used to treat moderate-to-severe allergic asthma appears to offer relief to people with chronic hives who haven't been helped by standard medications, new research suggests.

User comments