Washington, Feb 24 (ANI): A new study by American researchers has found that elevated cerebrospinal fluid levels of phosphorylated tau231 (P-tau231), a damaged tau protein, can be used as early diagnostic biomarker for Alzheimer's in healthy adults.
The research demonstrates that high levels of P- tau231 predict future memory decline and loss of brain grey matter in the medial temporal lobe- a key memory centre. Previous studies discovered the medial temporal lobe to be the most vulnerable brain region in the early stages of Alzheimer's accumulating damaged tau proteins in the form of neurofibrillary tangles. Tangles are one of the signature indicators of Alzheimer's, in addition to beta amyloid plaques.
Lead author Lidia Glodzik, assistant research professor, Department of Psychiatry at the Center for Brain Health and Center of Excellence on Brain Aging at NYU School of Medicine, said: "Our research results show for the first time that elevated levels of P-tau 231 in normal individuals can predict memory decline and accompanying brain atrophy.
"Our findings suggest that P-tau231 has the potential to be an important diagnostic tool in the pre-symptomatic stages of Alzheimer's disease."
Scientists analysed 57 cognitively healthy older adults and studied the relationships between baseline cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers, longitudinal memory performance and longitudinal measures of the medial temporal lobe grey matter using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
Two years later, they found that 20 out of 57 healthy adults showed decreased memory performance. The group with worsened memory had higher baseline levels of P-tau231 and more atrophy in the medial temporal lobe. The higher P-tau231 levels were linked with reductions in medial temporal lobe gray matter. Authors concluded that elevated P-tau231 predicts both memory decline and medial temporal lobe atrophy.
Co-author Mony de Leon, EdD, professor, Department of Psychiatry and director of the Center for Brain Health at the Center of Excellence on Brain Aging at NYU School of Medicine, said: Identifying people at risk for Alzheimer's disease is the necessary first step in developing preventive therapies.
"This study shows that Alzheimer's disease pathology may be recognized in the normal stages of cognition.This observation may be of value in future studies investigating mechanisms that cause or accelerate dementia."
The study has appeared online in Neurobiology of Aging. (ANI)