Protein misfolding as a risk marker for Alzheimer’s disease – up to 14 years before the diagnosis

In symptom-free individuals, the detection of misfolded amyloid-β protein in the blood indicated a considerably higher risk of Alzheimer's disease – up to 14 years before a clinical diagnosis was made. Amyloid-β folding proved to be superior to other risk markers evaluated, as shown by scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Ruhr University Bochum (RUB), the Saarland Cancer Registry, and the Network Aging Research at Heidelberg University.

To do so, scientists reexamined blood samples collected as part of ESTHER, a cohort study led by Hermann Brenner and conducted in collaboration with the Saarland Cancer Registry. The cohort study was initiated back in the year 2000. 

The researchers looked at the initial blood samples of 150 ESTHER participants in whom dementia was subsequently diagnosed during the 14-year follow-up period. These samples were compared with those of 620 randomly selected control participants not known to have been diagnosed with dementia who correlated with the dementia participants in terms of age, sex, and level of education.

Participants with Aβ misfolding had a 23-fold increased odds of Alzheimer's disease diagnosis within 14 years. In patients with other types of dementia, such as those caused by reduced blood supply to the brain, the study did not demonstrate an increased risk, supporting Alzheimer's disease specificity. The new test may be a non-invasive and inexpensive way of identifying high-risk groups who do not yet have any symptoms.

Materials provided by DKFZ

Oct. 17, 2019, 10:24 a.m.

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