CSF Abnormalities Studied for Early Detection of Alzheimer’s
Their study consisted of 137 patients with mild cognitive problems, who consented to undergo lumbar puncture and CSF sampling. The participants were follower up for 12 years, with more than half (53.7%) developed Alzheimer’s while others developed other forms of dementia.
The method consists of extracting CSF via lumbar puncture and analyzing levels of beta-amyloid 42, tau protein and phosphorylated tau proteins.
Those who possess reduced beta-amyloid levels and high levels of tau proteins (including phosphorylated tau) are at very likely to have Alzheimer’s disease within ten years. According to results, the researcher’s method had a sensitivity of 88%.
So the markers for the condition are elevated total tau proteins. In the Swedish study, those who had elevated levels of tau proteins got Alzheimer’s within 10 years. Those who have normal biological markers, even though they have mild cognitive impairment, are not found to have high risk of the degenerative condition.
Beta amyloid not the marker, but still had influence regarding AD
The protein beta-amyloid has been historically implicated as a possible cause of AD. However, several studies failed to confirm it. The Swedish study seems to support the theory that the body’s failure to metabolize beta amyloid along with abnormalities in tau protein levels is an early indicator of AD.
But this time, it seems that tau proteins are to blame. Tau proteins are abundant in neurons in the central nervous system, and are mainly found in the microtubules that support neurons. According to a theory, if tau protein fails to provide support to neurons, dementias like Alzheimer’s are likely to occur.
Still needs a larger study
Swedish researchers accept that their method is quite small, and need more participants and intensive clinical trials so the results would be valid. However, the method does give insight on how CSF sampling can be very useful for risk assessment. If the risk is high, they added, early intervention and disease-modifying therapies can be started. And such interventions are likely to be more efficient because it was started early.
Slow or stop progression of Alzheimer’s disease
CSF sampling and analysis can be a very important component to reduce or even stop progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Despite large numbers of clinical trials, there is no method to stop or reduce progression of the condition.
If probability for AD is determined as early as possible, then therapies and lifestyle modifications can be done to avoid having AD.
The study is available in the January issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.
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