Clues to Alzheimer's Spotted Earlier in Disease

WEDNESDAY June 24, 2009 -- Biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease can be detected in the cerebrospinal fluid in the very early stages of the disease, a Swedish study suggests.

University of Gothenburg researchers analyzed cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples from 168 patients and found the typical pattern of biomarkers known as the "CSF AD profile" present in patients with mild memory problems, which is earlier than the illness could be detected by current tests.

"The earlier we can catch Alzheimer's disease, the more we can do for the patient," researcher Kaj Blennow said in a university news release. "The patients who had the typical changes in biomarker profile of the cerebrospinal fluid had a risk of deterioration that was 27 times higher than the control group. We could also see that all patients with mild cognitive impairment who deteriorated and developed Alzheimer's disease had these changes in the biomarker profile of their cerebrospinal fluid."

The study also found a relationship between the CFS AD profile and other typical signs of Alzheimer's, including the presence of the gene APOE e4 and deterioration of the area of the brain that controls memory.

Their discovery will have major significance "if the new type of pharmaceutical that can directly slow the progression of the disease proves to have a clinical effect," Blennow said. "It is important in this case to start treatment before the changes in the brain have become too severe," he added.

The study, which included patients from seven European countries, appears in the current issue of Lancet Neurology.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about the stages and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

Posted: June 2009


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