New Alzheimer's marker strongly predicts mental decline

March 5, 2012

A new marker of Alzheimer's disease can predict how rapidly a patient's memory and other mental abilities will decline after the disorder is diagnosed, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found.

In 60 patients with early Alzheimer's disease, higher levels of the marker, visinin-like protein 1 (VILIP-1), in the spinal fluid were linked to a more rapid in the years that followed.

Scientists need to confirm the results in larger studies, but the new data suggest that VILIP-1 potentially may be a better predictor of Alzheimer's progression than other markers.

"VILIP-1 appears to be a strong indicator of ongoing injury to brain cells as a result of Alzheimer's disease," says lead author Rawan Tarawneh, MD, now an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Jordan. "That could be very useful in predicting the course of the disease and in evaluating new treatments in clinical trials."

The study appears March 6 in Neurology.

VILIP-1 was originally identified as a potential indicator of in the laboratory of Jack Ladenson, PhD, the Oree M. Carroll and Lillian B. Ladenson Professor of in Pathology and at Washington University. Scientists think VILIP-1 serves as a calcium sensor in brain cells. It is released into the when the cells are injured.

Tarawneh is a former postdoctoral research associate in the laboratory of David Holtzman, MD, the Andrew B. and Gretchen P. Jones Professor and head of Washington University's Department of Neurology. In an earlier study, she and her colleagues showed that healthy subjects with high levels of VILIP-1 were more likely to develop and Alzheimer's disease over a two- to three-year follow-up period.

For the new study, scientists identified patients with very mild or mild Alzheimer's disease enrolled in studies at the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Washington University School of Medicine. At the outset, researchers measured levels of VILIP-1 in patients' spinal fluid and assessed their mental abilities using an extensive battery of tests. The cognitive function testing was repeated annually.

"Memory and other declined faster in patients with the highest levels of VILIP-1," Tarawneh says. "In patients with early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, VILIP-1 seems to be at least as good as — and potentially even better than — the other prognostic indicators we used in the study."

The two additional indicators studied were the proteins amyloid beta and tau. Changes in the levels of those proteins mainly reflect the fact that amyloid beta and tau are starting to form abnormal deposits in the brain. In contrast, VILIP-1 appears to reveal how much damage to has occurred as a result of brain changes caused by Alzheimer's.

"These results are intriguing, but we need a larger study to fully understand how the insights provided by VILIP-1 compare to those we can gain from other markers," Tarawneh says.

She is working with Washington University scientists to standardize the tests that measure VILIP-1 for expanded use in research.

Explore further: Inherited Alzheimer's detectable 20 years before dementia

More information: Tarawneh R, Lee J-M, Ladenson JH, Morris JC, Holtzman DM. CSF VILIP-1 predicts rates of cognitive decline in early Alzheimer's disease. Neurology, March 6, 2012.

Related Stories

Inherited Alzheimer's detectable 20 years before dementia

July 20, 2011
Inherited forms of Alzheimer's disease may be detectable as many as 20 years before problems with memory and thinking develop, scientists will report July 20, 2011, at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference ...

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

June 22, 2011
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 ...

Alzheimer's protein detected in brain fluid of healthy mice

September 21, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- One of the most promising markers of Alzheimer’s disease, previously thought only to be inside nerve cells, now appears to be normally released from nerve cells throughout life, according to researchers ...

Recommended for you

Noninvasive eye scan could detect key signs of Alzheimer's years before patients show symptoms

August 17, 2017
Cedars-Sinai neuroscience investigators have found that Alzheimer's disease affects the retina—the back of the eye—similarly to the way it affects the brain. The study also revealed that an investigational, noninvasive ...

Could olfactory loss point to Alzheimer's disease?

August 16, 2017
By the time you start losing your memory, it's almost too late. That's because the damage to your brain associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) may already have been going on for as long as twenty years. Which is why there ...

New Machine Learning program shows promise for early Alzheimer's diagnosis

August 15, 2017
A new machine learning program developed by researchers at Case Western Reserve University appears to outperform other methods for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease before symptoms begin to interfere with every day living, initial ...

Brain scan study adds to evidence that lower brain serotonin levels are linked to dementia

August 14, 2017
In a study looking at brain scans of people with mild loss of thought and memory ability, Johns Hopkins researchers report evidence of lower levels of the serotonin transporter—a natural brain chemical that regulates mood, ...

Alzheimer's risk linked to energy shortage in brain's immune cells

August 14, 2017
People with specific mutations in the gene TREM2 are three times more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than those who carry more common variants of the gene. But until now, scientists had no explanation for the link.

Scientists reveal role for lysosome transport in Alzheimer's disease progression

August 7, 2017
Researchers from Yale University School of Medicine have discovered that defects in the transport of lysosomes within neurons promote the buildup of protein aggregates in the brains of mice with Alzheimer's disease. The study, ...

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.