Wednesday, June 12, 2024
HomeAlzheimerBlood Test To Diagnose Alzheimer's Disease

Blood Test To Diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease

How Is Alzheimers Disease Usually Detected

First blood test to help diagnose Alzheimer’s goes on sale

Paulson: Doctors usually make a clinical diagnosis of Alzheimers disease based on the history of the illness, cognitive assessment, a neurologic examination and often standard brain imaging. It is an imperfect science and we are not always right in concluding that the diagnosis is Alzheimers rather than some other form of dementia.

Testing the cerebrospinal fluid for biomarkers of Alzheimers can lead to a more precise diagnosis, but many patients are not eager to undergo the spinal tap needed to get this answer, and sometimes insurance companies wont pay for the test.

New imaging methods allow is to visualize the key Alzheimers proteins in the brain, namely beta-amyloid and tau, but these imaging procedures are expensive and not yet covered by insurance.

Detecting Alzheimers Gets Easier With A Simple Blood Test

New assays could reduce the need for costlier, more invasive brain scans and spinal fluid measures

When a patient complains of forgetfulness, a neurologist might not know immediately whether it results from normal aging, reduced blood flow to the brainor, more ominously, Alzheimers disease. For much of the past century, a definitive Alzheimers diagnosis could only be made during an autopsy. Brain imaging and spinal fluid tests now make it possible to spot the disease in patients even before the initial symptoms appear. But these invasive tests are expensive and generally limited to research settings that are not part of routine care for the millions of people suffering from the most common neurodegenerative disorder.

An era in which an Alzheimers diagnosis can begin in a doctors office is now arriving. Advances in technologies to detect early signs of disease from a blood sample are helping doctors to identify the memory-robbing disorder more accurately and to screen participants more quickly for trials of potential treatments for the more than five million people in the U.S. afflicted with Alzheimers.

The development of a blood-based test for Alzheimers disease is just phenomenal, says Michelle Mielke, a neuroscientist and epidemiologist at the Mayo Clinic. The field has been thinking about this for a very long time. Its really been in the last couple of years that the possibility has come to fruition.

Blood Test Could Diagnose Alzheimers Disease Decades Before Symptoms Develop Doctors Say

JACKSON, Miss. Alzheimers disease robs sufferers of their memory and families of loved ones well before they die. There is no cure, but prevention techniques can certainly help delay the onset and severity of symptoms. Now there may soon be a way for people genetically at risk to tackle the condition farther in advance than ever before. Scientists have developed a simple new blood test could diagnose Alzheimers disease before symptoms develop.

Currently, the only way to detect amyloid beta, the toxic protein viewed as the hallmark signature of Alzheimers, is through costly PET scans or invasive spinal tap procedures. The Alzheimers blood test could lead to a screening program, enabling medications and lifestyle changes to be prescribed to vulnerable individuals. One of the reasons drug trials have failed is they are given to patients once the condition has already taken hold.

Right now we look at levels in the central nervous system as a biomarker of Alzheimers, explains lead author Dr. Kevin Sullivan, of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, per South West News Service. But the only way to do that is through brain scans or looking at the cerebrospinal fluid via a lumbar puncture. These new results suggest there is utility in using simple blood draws that would be less expensive and much less invasive for people.

A lower ratio of A42 to A40 also increased the risk of dementia and MCI.

Don’t Miss: Can A Person With Alzheimer’s Sign Legal Documents

Blood Test Could Be Available In Two Years

Oskar Hansson, M.D., a researcher from Sweden’s Lund University and corresponding author on the JAMA study, says it will likely be another two years before the blood test that he and his colleagues studied is available in doctors offices.

Once there, however, he and Reiman see it being used by specialists to help diagnose individuals experiencing memory problems, and eventually, by primary care physicians as a screening tool especially if more preventive therapies or interventions for Alzheimer’s disease become available.

“One of the things I’m really excited about is the idea that the blood test can cause physicians to start thinking about this problem, finding out if people have it, and then developing strategies where families can get assistance to navigate through some of these challenging issues to improve their quality of life even while we’re working to find more effective treatments, Reiman says.

“I think it’s going to have a profound benefit and soon. We just have to have work through the issues in a thoughtful way.

More on Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Could This Potential Blood Test Help With Accessibility To Testing And Treatment

Blood test can diagnose people with Alzheimers disease

Kanaan: Yes, the emerging blood tests are highly accessible in a clinical research setting, like the Michigan Alzheimers Disease Research Center, today. Whether blood tests such as these become a component of standard clinical practice for dementia management will require additional development and testing, but this is certainly one of the main directions in which we and others are moving.

The continuing enrichment of the biomarker toolkit for clinicians and scientists will ultimately provide several useful advantages to clinical care for dementia. Among these advantages: it will facilitate better clinical trials, monitoring of therapeutic efficacy and may even identify important biological processes involved in brain diseases.

Read Also: How To Help Someone With Alzheimer’s

Dementia Blood Test Panel

A Dementia Blood Test Panel is commonly ordered tests used to differentiate between Alzheimer’s and other forms of Dementia. Includes CBC, Electrolytes, TSH, T4 total, Vitamin B12, CRP, and Sedimentation Rate.

See Individual Tests


Fasting for 12 hours is required. Refrain from taking vitamin C supplements and fruits 24 hours before the collection and biotin for at least 72 hours prior to the collection. Must draw before Schilling test, transfusions or B12 therapy is started.

Test Results:

3-5 days. May take longer based on weather, holiday or lab delays.

See Individual Tests


Fasting for 12 hours is required. Refrain from taking vitamin C supplements and fruits 24 hours before the collection and biotin for at least 72 hours prior to the collection. Must draw before Schilling test, transfusions or B12 therapy is started.

Test Results:

3-5 days. May take longer based on weather, holiday or lab delays.

What Makes This New Blood Test Different Than Previous Attempts

Paulson: Our ability to detect signals in blood of specific proteins linked to disease has gotten better over time. This success is due to the fact that the technology is now much better and the specific biomarker being detected is closely linked to the underlying pathology of Alzheimers disease. That is why it seems so promising.

Don’t Miss: What Sense Is Most Affected By Alzheimer’s Disease

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s: Which Blood Test Is Best

Batya Swift Yasgur, MA, LSW

There are important differences in the diagnostic accuracy of blood tests used to screen for Alzheimer’s disease . Some mass spectrometry based plasma tests can detect brain amyloid pathology.

Investigators compared the performance of eight plasma A42/40 assays in detecting abnormal brain A for patients with early AD. The patients were drawn from two cohorts.

In both cohorts, two MS-based assays IP-MS-WashU and IP-MS-Shim were superior to the other assays in determining cerebrospinal fluid A42/40 and A-positron-emission tomography status.

“Our study shows that the accuracy of different A42/40 assays vary substantially when it comes to their ability to detect brain amyloid in patients with early Alzheimer’s disease that certain mass spectrometrybased assays are clearly better than other types of assays,” lead investigator Shorena Janelidze, PhD, a researcher at the Clinical Memory Research Unit, Lund University, Lund, Sweden, told Medscape Medical News.

“Our results from two specialized cohorts indicate which assays have the greatest potential for use in clinical practice and trials,” she said.

The study was September 29 in JAMA Neurology.

Midlife Alzheimers Blood Test Could Help Prove Future Predictions Wrong

Breakthrough Alzheimers Blood Test May Make Diagnosis Simple, Affordable And Widely Available

In the study, 2,284 men and women with an average age of 59 were tracked for 25 years. Blood samples were analyzed at the start and then again in late life, when they were about 77. The participants did not have problems with memory or thinking skills at the outset.

Mental tests showed 502 and 832 went on to develop dementia and MCI, respectively.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, took into account age, education and cardiovascular risk factors.

As the brain engages in daily tasks, it continually produces and clears away amyloid beta, which can stop brain cells functioning properly. Some is washed into the blood, and some floats in the cerebrospinal fluid, which is why spinal taps are used. If the protein starts building up, it can collect into plaques that stick to neurons, triggering permanent damage.

They are composed mainly of amyloid beta 42, meaning it is probably being deposited in the brain before moving into the blood.

In the U.S., about 6 million people are currently living with Alzheimers. Its believed that number will balloon to 13 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimers Association. One recent study predicts that dementia cases worldwide will triple by that year.

South West News Service writer Mark Waghorn contributed to this report.

Recommended Reading: What Care Settings Are Available For A Person With Dementia

What Have Previous Tests And Treatments Looked Like And Why Have They Been Unsuccessful

Paulson: The cerebrospinal fluid measurements are actually quite good at helping doctors make the diagnosis of Alzheimers versus another dementia, but the ordeal of undergoing a procedure that many patients are not eager to undergo means that cerebrospinal fluid measurements are not routinely used in clinical practice.

PET imaging of amyloid and tau is remarkably powerful, but, in the current absence of insurance coverage, most patients simply cannot afford it. Thus, for now, it remains a research test.

Treatments are another matter altogether. While anti-amyloid therapies continue to be tested, they have not been robustly positive in clinical trials. We dont yet know if that lack of effectiveness is due, perhaps, to giving the treatments too late or due to anti-amyloid treatments simply being insufficient as a therapy for Alzheimers.

A simple and sensitive blood test that could pinpoint the Alzheimers disease process well before any cognitive symptoms would allow us to give any potential disease-slowing therapy anti-amyloid, anti-tau, anti-inflammatory at a very early point in the disease process. Doing so likely will increase our chances of finding an effective therapy.

Early Onset Alzheimer’s Ngs Diagnostic Test

AD is a complex and heterogeneous disease, influenced by many genetic and environmental factors. Early onset familial AD occurs in less than 2% of AD cases. This test analyzes three genes , presenilin 1 and presenilin 2 ) to detect pathogenic variants that cause autosomal dominant early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Testing may be considered to confirm a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s disease in symptomatic individuals.

Don’t Miss: How To Get Rid Of Dementia Naturally

What Are The Benefits Of An Early Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

Alzheimers disease slowly worsens over time. People living with this disease progress at different rates, from mild Alzheimers, when they first notice symptoms, to severe, when they are completely dependent on others for care.

Early, accurate diagnosis is beneficial for several reasons. While there is no cure, there are several medicines available to treat Alzheimers, along with coping strategies to manage behavioral symptoms. Beginning treatment early in the disease process may help preserve daily functioning for some time. Most medicines work best for people in the early or middle stages of the disease. Learn more about Alzheimers medications.

In addition, having an early diagnosis helps people with Alzheimers and their families:

Alzheimers / Dementia Testing Alternatives

Blood test to diagnose Alzheimers disease

Despite the lack of FDA approved blood tests, families who suspect their loved one may have Alzheimers have a long path to a diagnosis. To begin the process, there are online tests for Alzheimers that can be downloaded, printed, completed and taken to your doctor, and even some interactive tests that might provide immediate results. However, these online tests do not actually test for Alzheimers or dementia. Instead, they offer families answers to these questions: Are my concerns about my loved one justified?Is this just normal aging or is there something more going on? Officially, the tests are looking for Mild Cognitive Impairment . These tests are not definitive, but they can help a family figure out what their next step should be.

If a doctor suspects a patient may have Alzheimers, there are more definitive approaches. Brain scans and tests on extracted spinal fluid when coupled with multiple physicians consultations can make a diagnosis of Alzheimers with upwards of 90 percent accuracy. Families should expect their loved one to be evaluated by a neurologist, a psychiatrist, and very likely a psychologist as well. Since Alzheimers is so common among the elderly, a diagnosis is less about finding a condition which fits and more about eliminating other possibilities.

Don’t Miss: How Long Does Late Stage Lewy Body Dementia Last

Hope For Alzheimer’s Blood Test

by Macquarie University

Alzheimer’s & Dementia

Researchers from Macquarie University’s Centre for Ageing, Cognition and Wellbeing are one step closer to a blood test to diagnose Alzheimer’s early in the disease’s progression.

Professor Ralph Martins and colleague Dr. Pratishtha Chatterjee are lead authors on a paper in Alzheimer’s & Dementia showing that several blood biomarkers reflect the core hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia.

Professor Martins says current standard clinical testing only provides a possible or probable diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

“Cerebrospinal fluid samples and brain imaging that can confirm if someone has Alzheimer’s, but these are invasive and expensive, so they are not commonly done,” he says.

“Blood biomarkers would be cheap, easily accessible and have the ability to deliver high throughput testing.”

“It’s important to be able to confirm a diagnosis early on, as this will allow patients and their families to be better prepared for future challenges, provide opportunities for them to be involved in clinical trials, and lower the cost of screening participants for these trials.”

The study makes use of data from the Australian Imaging Biomarker and Lifestyle Study of Aging .

Dr. Chatterjee says further investigation will now be required to validate the clinical cut-off points for implementation in clinical settings, including looking at people from multiple ethnic backgrounds and those with comorbidities.

Blood Tests Show Promise For Early Alzheimers Diagnosis

From NIH Research Matters

With the aging of the U.S. population, the incidence of Alzheimers disease continues to rise. The disease is currently the most common cause of dementia in older adults.

Brain changes associated with Alzheimers include abnormal clumps , tangled bundles of fibers , and the eventual death of nerve cells. These changes can lead to a progressive decline in memory and thinking skills.

Treatments dont yet exist to slow or reverse Alzheimers disease progression. Researchers are working to test new therapies in clinical trials. But no blood tests can currently diagnose Alzheimers before symptoms develop. This complicates studies of early treatments or preventive strategies.

PET imaging and tests that use cerebrospinal fluid can be used to identify Alzheimers before dementia develops. But PET imaging is expensive, and collecting CSF is invasive. Recent research found that measurements of a substance in the blood called ptau181 showed promise as an Alzheimers test.

Scientists have been examining whether another form of the tau protein, called ptau217, can also serve as an early marker of Alzheimers development. Both are found in the tau tangles that accumulate in the brain and can spill into the bloodstream. Two new studies tested different ways of measuring ptau217 in blood samples. The research teams were funded in part by NIHs National Institute on Aging , National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke , and Office of the Director .

Also Check: What Is Vascular Dementia With Behavioral Disturbance

Beta Amyloid 42/40 Ratio Csf

LabCorps Beta-Amyloid 42/40 Ratio test quantifies the amount of beta-amyloid 42 and 40 proteins in a CSF patient sample and computes the ratio of those proteins, providing an indication of disease progression. Studies have shown strong correlation of CSF beta-amyloid levels to PET scan results. This test can be a surrogate to more costly PET scan imaging.

So Can A Blood Test Detect Alzheimers Disease

Blood test could help diagnose Alzheimer’s

With many people a blood test often sends shivers down the spine. Especially when we think of needles and blood and a visit to the doctors. But if we are going to help prevent Alzheimers then a simple test could go a long way to helping prevent the chances of developing the disease in later life.

So what does the blood test involve. Well its not as bad as we first think. Blood is taken from the finger by way of a small lancet piercing the finger. A few droplets are then placed on the testing paper.The sample is then sent off for analysis and detection of any abnormalities and levels of high Homocysteine in the blood which could lead to developing Alzheimers in later life.

Also Check: How Long Does Uti Dementia Last

Blood Test For Alzheimers Highly Accurate In Large International Study

When combined with genetic risk factors, test up to 93% accurate at identifying people at risk of Alzheimer’s dementia

Neurologist Randall J. Bateman, MD, the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Distinguished Professor of Neurology, inspects a mass spectrometry machine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Using mass spectrometry, Bateman and colleagues have developed a blood test that is up to 93% accurate at identifying people at risk of Alzheimer’s dementia.

A blood test developed at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has proven highly accurate in detecting early signs of Alzheimers disease in a study involving nearly 500 patients from across three continents, providing further evidence that the test should be considered for routine screening and diagnosis.

The study is available in the journal Neurology.

Our study shows that the blood test provides a robust measure for detecting amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimers disease, even among patients not yet experiencing cognitive declines, said senior author Randall J. Bateman, MD, the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Distinguished Professor of Neurology.

Developed by Bateman and colleagues, the blood test assesses whether amyloid plaques have begun accumulating in the brain based on the ratio of the levels of the amyloid beta proteins A42 and A40 in the blood.


Most Popular