John Ringman, a researcher in Neurology at UCLA has identified specific proteins in the blood and spinal fluid that can signal Alzheimer’s Disease. Many years (up to 30) before any clinical symptoms develop, certain protein levels steeply decline. These decreased levels indicate that the patient will develop Alzheimer’s before the age of 65. The results are somewhat problematic, however, in that there are two different kinds of Alzheimer’s: Familial Alzheimer’s (FAD) and Sporadic Alzheimers (SA). FAD usually manifests before age 65, whereas SA manifests after 65. Only 2% of all Alzheimer’s patients suffer from FAD and offspring of people with this disease have a 50/50 chance of inheriting the specific gene mutation that causes FAD. The results may not apply to SA, which is why it still remains to be seen whether these protein markers are decreased in these patients. Since we don’t know the cause of this SA, it will be difficult to predict which members of a given population will have the disease and then test their blood 30 years prior to onset to see if protein levels are decreased.
In addition to the decreased protein levels years before symptom onset of FAD, researchers also found two proteins that were elevated just prior to clinical symptoms; t-tau and p-tau181. They have yet to determine, however whether these same proteins are present in SA.
A full copy of this article along with other news in Alzheimer’s Disease can be found at the All About Alzheimer’s Carnival.
The article in its entirety can be found in the July 18, 2008 issue of the journal Neurology.
The full press release can be found in Eureka Alert.