The Hunt for Blood Biomarkers to Diagnose Alzheimer’s

Attempts to find a lone biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease — whether it’s in blood, spinal fluid, or the brain — have largely failed.  The Texas Alzheimer’s Research Consortium project conducted a longitudinal case-control study, using stored blood samples to develop an algorithm that separates patients with Alzheimer’s disease from controls. The biomarker assays looked at hundreds of proteins, including thrombopoietin, TNF-alpha, creatine kinase, and various interleukins.  The his team focused on a large array of blood-based proteins, since assay technology has now made it possible to evaluate large amounts of data.   Screening for these biomarkers and factoring in age, sex, education, and APOE status led to a sensitivity of 0.94 and a specificity of 0.84,  as reported by Sid O’Bryant, PhD, of Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, Texas, and colleagues in the Archives of Neurology.   They also saw that many of the proteins with the highest importance were inflammatory in nature, which suggests that the existence of an inflammatory-related endophenotype of Alzheimer’s disease “may provide targeted therapeutic opportunities for this subset of patients.”