Advances in understanding and detecting Alzheimer's disease

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Researchers are making strides toward understanding and detecting Alzheimer's disease in its earliest stages, when interventions may be most effective at slowing the progress of the disease. The findings will be presented on Sunday, November 12, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EST at Neuroscience 2023, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world's largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder predicted to affect 8.5 million people by 2030. Individuals with AD may experience mild cognitive impairment and the accumulation of abnormal proteins in their brains for years before the onset of dementia. Early detection is important for effective intervention, but existing diagnostic methods can be subjective, expensive, or invasive. Understanding the biological and cognitive changes associated with early AD is necessary for early detection, monitoring, and treatment of this disease.

New findings show that:

  • A blood-based test identified detectable blood proteins linked to Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment (Yuanbing "Jason" Jiang, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)
  • Men have faster accumulation of protein biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease and more rapid declines in cognition and brain volume than women after the onset of amyloid plaque accumulation (Keenan Walker, National Institute on Aging)
  • A blood-based test effectively detects early Alzheimer's disease across ethnic groups with high accuracy (Li "Joyce" Ouyang, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)

Early detection of Alzheimer's disease is key for the efficacy of current interventions as well as for evaluating the effectiveness of new therapies. The research advances presented today may lead to future diagnostics to help in prognosis, measure disease progression, and evaluate therapies."

Virginia Lee, Director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, University of Pennsylvania

This research was supported by national funding agencies including the National Institutes of Health and private funding organizations. Find out more about social behavior and the brain on BrainFacts.org.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EST

Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Room 202B

Alzheimer's disease press conference summary

  • Blood proteins, which can be easily and accurately measured, could represent a less invasive set of candidate biomarkers for AD diagnosis.
  • Though there is a higher prevalence of AD among women, men experience a faster rate of cognitive decline and brain atrophy following the onset of AD-associated brain changes.

Comprehensive profiling of plasma proteome in mild cognitive impairments identifies high-performance blood biomarkers for early screening and classification of Alzheimer's disease

Yuanbing "Jason" Jiang, [email protected], Abstract PSTR198.18

  • Researchers developed a library of 1,160 proteins in blood samples from patients with early Alzheimer's disease (AD) or mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
  • The researchers identified nearly 500 blood proteins associated with MCI.
  • Researchers selected 18 proteins to serve as a profile of protein changes in AD and MCI.
  • The protein panel was able to classify MCI and AD in two cohorts with more than 90 percent accuracy, showing blood-based biomarkers could help with early detection and staging of AD and MCI.

Sex-based trajectory differences in longitudinal biomarker, cognitive, and structural measures after onset of amyloid-β accumulation

Keenan Walker, [email protected], Abstract PSTR198.19

  • Using brain scans and blood samples from 76 older adults in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging with evidence of amyloid plaque accumulation in their brains, researchers estimated that the buildup of AD-associated β-amyloid proteins began ~15 years before the onset of cognitive impairment.
  • Following the onset of beta amyloid accumulation, men showed faster increases in concentrations of modified tau proteins in the blood -; a protein in the brain that can form tangles and can co-occur with amyloid plaques in AD -; and faster declines in brain volume and cognitive performance.
  • Previous studies have demonstrated higher prevalence of AD among women, but these results suggest that men may exhibit faster Alzheimer's-related brain changes and cognitive decline following the emergence of amyloid plaques.

Development of a high-performance blood-based biomarker panel for the early screening and classification of Alzheimer's disease

Li "Joyce" Ouyang, [email protected], Abstract PSTR198.11

  • Researchers developed a blood-based test based on levels of 21 blood proteins to reflect a broad range of Alzheimer's-associated biological changes.
  • The scientists developed a risk-scoring system based on the test, which was associated with different measures of AD progression, including cognitive decline, inflammation, immune function and the buildup of beta amyloid plaques and tau proteins.
  • This panel accurately detected Alzheimer's with up to 98% accuracy in patients of Chinese or European descent, suggesting it may be useful in the early diagnosis, and monitoring of Alzheimer's disease in clinical settings.

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