Damaged protein identified as early diagnostic biomarker for Alzheimer's disease

February 23, 2010, New York University School of Medicine

Researchers at NYU School of Medicine have found that elevated cerebrospinal fluid levels of phosphorylated tau231 (P-tau231), a damaged tau protein found in patients with Alzheimer's disease, may be an early diagnostic biomarker for Alzheimer's disease in healthy adults.

The study published this month online by Neurobiology of Aging shows that high levels of P- tau231 predict future and loss of brain gray matter in the medial temporal lobe- a key memory center. Prior studies found the medial temporal lobe to be the most vulnerable brain region in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease accumulating damaged tau proteins in the form of neurofibrillary tangles. Tangles are one of the signature indicators of Alzheimer's disease, in addition to beta amyloid plaques.

"Our research results show for the first time that elevated levels of P-tau 231 in normal individuals can predict memory decline and accompanying brain atrophy," said lead author Lidia Glodzik MD, PhD, assistant research professor, Department of Psychiatry at the Center for Brain Health and Center of Excellence on Brain Aging at NYU School of Medicine. "Our findings suggest that P-tau231 has the potential to be an important diagnostic tool in the pre-symptomatic stages of Alzheimer's disease."

Researchers evaluated 57 cognitively healthy and studied the relationships between baseline cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers, longitudinal memory performance and longitudinal measures of the medial temporal lobe gray matter using , or MRI. Two years later, researchers found that 20 out of 57 healthy adults showed decreased memory performance. The group with worsened memory had higher baseline levels of P-tau231 and more atrophy in the medial temporal lobe. The higher P-tau231 levels were associated with reductions in medial temporal lobe . Authors concluded that elevated P-tau231 predicts both memory decline and medial temporal lobe atrophy.

"Indentifying people at risk for Alzheimer's disease is the necessary first step in developing preventive therapies," said co-author Mony de Leon, EdD, professor, Department of Psychiatry and director of the Center for Brain Health at the Center of Excellence on Aging at NYU School of Medicine and Research Scientist at the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research. "This study shows that pathology may be recognized in the normal stages of cognition.This observation may be of value in future studies investigating mechanisms that cause or accelerate dementia".

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Building better tiny kidneys to test drugs and help people avoid dialysis

February 16, 2018
A free online kidney atlas built by USC researchers empowers stem cell scientists everywhere to generate more human-like tiny kidneys for testing new drugs and creating renal replacement therapies.

Expanding Hepatitis C testing to all adults is cost-effective and improves outcomes

February 16, 2018
According to a new study, screening all adults for hepatitis C (HCV) is a cost-effective way to improve clinical outcomes of HCV and identify more infected people compared to current recommendations. Using a simulation model, ...

Study suggests expanded range for emerging tick-borne disease

February 16, 2018
Human cases of Borrelia miyamotoi, a tick-borne infection with some similarities to Lyme disease, were discovered in the eastern United States less than a decade ago. Now new research led by the Yale School of Public Health ...

Flu shot only 36 percent effective, making bad year worse (Update)

February 15, 2018
The flu vaccine is doing a poor job protecting older Americans and others against the bug that's causing most illnesses.

IFN-mediated immunity to influenza A virus infection influenced by RIPK3 protein

February 15, 2018
Each year, influenza kills half a million people globally with the elderly and very young most often the victims. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 37 children have died in the United States ...

A new class of drug to treat herpes simplex virus-1 infection

February 14, 2018
For patients with the herpes simplex-1 virus (HSV-1), there are just a handful of drugs available to treat the painful condition that can affect the eyes, mouth and genitals.

0 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.