Biomarkers Promising For Identifying Alzheimer's Disease
Early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease using biomarkers in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) may soon be possible, thanks to a group of Swedish researchers. According to the new study, the biomarkers were accurate in identifying patients who had mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a condition that often progresses to Alzheimer's disease.
The investigators noted that in their large multicenter study, which included 750 individuals with mild cognitive impairment, 529 with Alzheimer’s disease, and 304 healthy controls, that “CSF biomarkers Aβ42, T-tau, and P-tau can be used to predict with good accuracy which MCI patients will develop AD.”
The reason scientists can use the cerebrospinal fluid is that biochemical changes in the brain can be detected in the CSF. Researchers have developed specific biomarkers that can be used to help in the diagnostic process. Among those biomarkers are Aβ42 (β-amyloid1-42), T-tau (total tau protein), and P-tau (tau phosphorylated at position threonine 181).
In the Swedish study, researchers followed the participants for at least two years or until they showed symptoms of clinical dementia. During the follow-up process, 271 participants who had MCI were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and 59 were shown to have other forms of dementia. The biomarker Aβ42 especially showed lots of variability and thus was a good indicator for development of Alzheimer’s disease.
For now, the study researchers note that the CSF biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease may be helpful mainly as screening tools and thus helping clinicians choose which patients need further follow-up tests.
Alzheimer’s disease affects 5.3 million people in the United States and more than 15 million around the world. Experts project that the numbers will reach 30 million in the United States and 100 million globally by the year 2050. Early detection of the disease using biomarkers and other methods allows for treatment to be started early in the disease process before the amount of brain cell damage is too severe.