New approach could lead to blood test to diagnose Alzheimer's in earliest stage

Blood offers promise as a way to detect Alzheimer's disease at its earliest onset, Mayo Clinic researchers say. They envision a test that would detect distinct metabolic signatures in blood plasma that are synonymous with the disease—years before patients begin showing cognitive decline. Their study was recently published online in the journal PLOS ONE.

Researchers analyzed cerebrospinal fluid and from 45 people in the Mayo Clinic Study on Aging and Mayo Clinic Alzheimer's Disease Center (15 with no , 15 with and 15 with Alzheimer's disease). They detected significant changes in the cerebrospinal fluid and plasma in those with cognitive decline and Alzheimer's. Most important, changes in plasma accurately reflected changes in the cerebrospinal fluid, validating blood as a reliable source for the biomarker development.

The team uses a relatively new technique called metabolomics, which measures the of metabolic pathways in the cell—sugars, lipids, nucleotides, amino acids and fatty acids—to detect the changes. Metabolomics assesses what is happening in the body at a given time and at a fine level of detail, giving scientists insight into the cellular processes that underlie a disease. In this case, the metabolomic profiles showed changes in metabolites related to mitochondrial function and energy metabolism, further confirming that altered mitochondrial energetics is at the root of the disease process.

The researchers hope that identified changes in the could lead to the panel of biomarkers, which can eventually be used on a larger scale for early diagnosis, monitoring of Alzheimer's progression, and evaluating therapeutic approaches, says co-author Eugenia Trushina, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic pharmacologist.

"We want to use these biomarkers to diagnose the Alzheimer's disease before symptoms appear—which can be decades before people start exhibiting memory loss," Dr. Trushina says. "The earlier we can detect the disease, the better treatment options we will be able to offer."

Related Stories

Alzheimer's markers predict start of mental decline

May 14, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have helped identify many of the biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease that could potentially predict which patients will develop the disorder ...

Cardiac disease linked to higher risk of mental impairment

Jan 28, 2013

Cardiac disease is associated with increased risk of mild cognitive impairment such as problems with language, thinking and judgment—particularly among women with heart disease, a Mayo Clinic study shows. Known as nonamnestic ...

No link between anesthesia, dementia in elderly

May 01, 2013

Elderly patients who receive anesthesia are no more likely to develop long-term dementia or Alzheimer's disease than other seniors, according to new Mayo Clinic research. The study analyzed thousands of patients using the ...

Recommended for you

Researchers identify potential biomarker for AD

Jul 28, 2014

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) report variants in a new gene, PLXNA4, which may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD). The discovery of this novel genetic association may lead ...

Study links enzyme to Alzheimer's disease

Jul 21, 2014

Unclogging the body's protein disposal system may improve memory in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), according to a study from scientists at Kyungpook National University in Korea published in The Jo ...

User comments