Making the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is challenging. Usually a doctor relies on a thorough psychological and neurological exam, blood tests to rule out other conditions, as well as brain imaging. Even using these tools, the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease may not be confirmed until an autopsy is performed upon death. Could there be a simpler way to make the diagnosis? A new study shows that testing for biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease using blood tests may allow a more accurate diagnosis of this common neurological disease.
A Blood Test for Alzheimer’s Disease?
According to research published in the Archives of Neurology, using a blood test that measures certain biomarkers in a patient’s bloodstream could allow a more accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease – as well as more reliably rule it out in patients who don’t have it.
The three biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease researchers found to be most promising are c-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation, interleukin-10, a marker of immune function, and fibrinogen, a protein involved in clotting. When they tested for these biomarkers in the bloodstream and used the results in conjunction with other factors, such as whether the person had the APOE gene (a gene linked to Alzheimer’s disease), age, educational level, and sex, they were able to correctly diagnose 80% of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. They were also able to rule out Alzheimer’s accurately 91% of the time.
The Problem with Using Biomarkers for Alzheimer’s Disease
Using a blood test to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease sounds simple, but there are some issues to consider. None of these three biomarkers is specific for Alzheimer’s disease, and they can be elevated with other diseases that cause inflammation or affect the immune system. But, using these three biomarkers together, along with a patient’s history and clinical exam, could make an accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease more likely – or more effectively rule it out.
A Blood Test for Alzheimer’s Disease: The Bottom Line?
Diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease usually requires a long and involved workup using imaging studies. Using biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease could be more cost-effective and less stressful for the patient. Hopefully, this test will be researched further, and eventually become a better way to make the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
Medical News Today. “Blood Test May Help Detect Or Rule Out Alzheimer’s Disease”