Four blood biomarkers to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease in daily clinical practice

IMIM researchers participate in a study that has analyzed nine blood biomarkers for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Four of them have an efficacy comparable to those analyzed with the current reference test, lumbar puncture, while being less invasive.

Blood collection for Alzheimer's is a minimally invasive test that could make it possible to diagnose patients who cannot undergo lumbar puncture. Photo: for Unsplash.

The Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) has collaborated with the Barcelonaβeta Brain Reserach Center (BBRC) of the Pascual Maragall Foundation and the University of Gothenburg in the analysis of 9 blood biomarkers for their potential use in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. And they have found that 4 of them could be useful in the diagnosis of the disease in day-to-day hospital life, detecting which patients need a lumbar puncture to confirm the diagnosis.

To carry out the study, blood and cerebrospinal fluid samples (obtained by lumbar puncture, which is the reference test for the disease) from 197 patients belonging to the BIODEGMAR cohort of the Hospital del Mar were used. This group of patients shows the diverse clinical reality of suffering from cognitive impairment due to various pathologies, not only Alzheimer’s disease.

“For the first time we have been able to make a comparative analysis of all these biomarkers in blood at the same time”
Marta Milà-Alomà, BBRC

For both blood and cerebrospinal fluid samples, the authors analysed the efficacy of 9 variants of the Tau protein (which causes the disease) to detect Alzheimer’s in patients. And although in blood all of them showed higher values in Alzheimer’s patients, only 4 of them demonstrated a detection accuracy comparable to that of the biomarkers obtained by lumbar puncture.

In other words, these four blood biomarkers are as good as the lumbar puntcutre biomarkers, and could be useful in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease even in the early stages.

Although lumbar puncture will continue to be the reference test, these results open the way to the use of a less invasive test in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease in daily clinical practice. They will also make it possible to “improve the diagnosis of patients who have cognitive problems and to better choose in which patients the reference test, the lumbar puncture, should be performed”, explains Marc Suárez-Calver, IMIM researcher.

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