Alzheimer's: increase in certain proteins in the blood in the early stages
The number of people suffering from dementia continues to increase. Despite decades of research, the disease is still not curable. But with early diagnosis and timely treatment, the disease can be positively influenced. A specific protein in the blood could help here. Because it could indicate the breaking of nerve connections years before symptoms appeared.
A research team has identified a protein in the blood that may indicate the breakdown of nerve connections years before symptoms of dementia appear. If these indications are confirmed, the detection of this protein called "beta-synuclein" could contribute to the early detection of Alzheimer's disease. The study results were published in the journal Annals of Neurology.
Researchers from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and the University Hospital Ulm as well as experts from the LMU Clinic in Munich and the Medical University Halle (Saale) participated in the study.
"Our data indicate that the level of beta-synuclein in the blood increases in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease and that this is associated with the destruction of nerve connections, called synapses", explains PD Dr. Patrick Öckl, chief research group at the DZNE Ulm site and at the Department of Neurology at University Hospital Ulm, in a statement.
"So here we have a potential biomarker that could help detect the onset of dementia at an early stage - estimated to be more than ten years before symptoms become noticeable."
According to the scientist, the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease have so far been made much too late. "Then the brain is already massively damaged. We need to start earlier to increase the chances of being able to fight the disease effectively. Beta-synuclein could open up a possibility for this. However, further investigations are still needed to confirm our findings. .
Studies in People with Down Syndrome
According to the information, the results of the current study are based on examinations of 61 people with Down syndrome (also known as "trisomy 21") and 23 cognitively healthy adults.
“People with Down syndrome have an inherited disorder of brain development, which usually leads to impaired intellectual abilities,” says Professor Johannes Levin, neurologist at the DZNE site in Munich and head of the LMU outpatient clinic. Clinic Munich. for people with Down syndrome and cognitive impairment.
“In addition, their hereditary factors reinforce the molecular processes involved in the development of Alzheimer's disease. Down syndrome is therefore associated with a genetic form of Alzheimer's disease with an early onset of symptoms. As a rule, this occurs after the age of 40,” explains the researcher.
“You can learn a lot about dementia by studying Down syndrome. We suspect that the processes that occur here in a particularly pronounced way also occur in people with Alzheimer's disease but without Down syndrome."
Various applications possible
If further studies confirm the current results, various applications could be envisaged for the beta-synuclein marker.
"For drug studies in Alzheimer's disease, a synaptic blood marker would be very useful in recording the effects of treatment, that is, in determining what an experimental drug triggers in the brain. This would complement the picture conveyed by the established markers,” says Professor Markus Otto, Head of the University Clinic and Neurology Polyclinic at Halle University Medical Center, who has also played a key role in the ongoing investigations.
“I see another application in dementia care and early detection. Being able to measure beta-synuclein in blood means significant relief for patients compared to current cerebrospinal fluid testing.
The expert adds: “If you consider that synapses are also lost, for example, in traumatic brain injury and stroke, the importance of beta-synuclein is even more important. Here too, the marker could help assess nerve damage and thus make a significant contribution to better diagnostics and therapies.
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This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.
Sources:Halle (Saale) University Medicine: Dementia: Blood values could indicate loss of nerve connections at an early stage, (Accessed: June 28, 2022), Halle (Saale) University Medicine Patrick Oeckl et al: Serum Beta-Synuclein Is Higher in Down syndrome and precedes the rise of pTau181; in: Annals of Neurology, (published: 03/27/2022), Annals of Neurology
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.