A new Alzheimer’s Study has found proteins in the blood that can be a predictor of Alzheimer’s disease. This revolutionary research in the future might help health care workers diagnose Alzheimer’s disease years before the symptoms start showing.
According to the CDC, Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that can affect the ability to remember things and respond to the world. The Alzheimer’s Association highlights the accumulation of beta-amyloid protein in the brain cells as a risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Protein That Is Linked to Alzheimer’s Risk
This new study has now overcome protein tau, another protein that serves the same function as amyloid protein in the brain.
Nicolas R. Barthélemy asserts that people with Alzheimer’s disease have exceptionally high levels of tau proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid of the brain and spinal cord. Even though directly extracting out this fluid is possible, it is costly. This invasive procedure involves spinal tapping.
These proteins are not only restricted to the CSF. Instead, it later leaks into the bloodstream that means it can be detected in the blood test. A person can have a preclinical case of Alzheimer’s disease if the tau protein test comes out positive.
The findings of the study “Blood plasma phosphorylated-tau isoforms track CNS change in Alzheimer’s disease” appear in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
Protein Tau Relation with Other Proteins in the Brain
To search for relationships with any other protein, the researchers took blood samples and brain CT scans of 34 people. Out of which, 19 did not have amyloid in the brain, 10 had amyloid with cognitive impairment and 5 had amyloid but no cognitive impairment.
It was found that only tau protein type phosphorylated tau 217 had a link with amyloid proteins in the brain. People with amyloid in the brain had twice or thrice more chances to also have high levels of tau protein in the blood. It came out that this fact was true even if the person had an impairment or not.
Another Confirmatory Test
To further confirm the findings, researchers conducted confirmatory research with 90 participants. 42 participants did not have amyloid, while 20 had amyloid with no symptoms, and 30 with both having amyloid with any symptoms.
Again, the researchers found a similar relationship against Alzheimer’s disease. According to the analysis, the presence of tau proteins confirms the existence of amyloid proteins by 90%.
On comparison of the people without amyloid to those who have amyloid but no cognitive impairments, they found that the phosphorylated tau 217 test predicted the presence of amyloid in brains by 86%.
Significance of the Research
Dr. Randall J. Bateman, the Charles F. and Joanne Knight, are the distinguished Professor of Neurology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and senior authors of the study.
He asserts that the study showing a close relationship of a specific type of tau proteins with amyloid plaques is quite useful to predict the chances of Alzheimer’s disease in the future. It would further help to have more research to find possible treatments and improve diagnostic procedures.
Nicolas Barthélemy, the first author of the study, highlights that even though it is just an explorative study, it is a well-defined biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease. They observed a huge difference in amyloid positive and amyloid negative groups who were cognitively normal.
In this study, there was a huge use of blood. Researchers are now looking for ways to reduce the usage of blood in tests and future research. Once they are able to accomplish their goal, they will make the next move to develop a tau protein-based test to diagnose the risk of Alzheimer’s disease even before the symptoms start.