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ICAD: Biomarkers Linked to Early Alzheimer's Disease

Proteins and enzymes in blood, spinal fluid may identify preclinical disease, predict progression

TUESDAY, July 29 (HealthDay News) -- Biomarkers in blood and spinal fluid may help identify early Alzheimer's disease, according to research presented this week at the 2008 Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Chicago.

In one study, Thomas Arendt, M.D., of the University of Leipzig in Germany and colleagues measured expression of CD-69 -- a protein involved in white blood cell growth and production -- in healthy controls, patients with probable Alzheimer's and patients with other dementias. They found that variations in levels of CD-69 accurately differentiated all three groups.

In a second study, Anne M. Fagan, Ph.D., of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and colleagues showed that low spinal fluid levels of the protein amyloid-beta 42 are associated with high levels of brain amyloid, suggesting that a decline in amyloid-beta 42 may help identify nondemented individuals who have preclinical Alzheimer's. In a third study, Harald Hampel, M.D., of Trinity College Dublin in Ireland and colleagues measured levels of the brain enzyme beta-secretase (BACE1) in spinal fluid and found that people with mild cognitive impairment had higher levels of BACE1 activity than either healthy controls or Alzheimer's patients.

"Discovery of measurable markers that track with the presence of Alzheimer's pathology and that predict the development of cognitive decline in people who are still cognitively normal, known as antecedent biomarkers, are especially needed," William Thies, Ph.D., vice president of medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer's Association, said in a statement.

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