Tag Archives: Biomarker

Scientists have identified a single blood protein that may indicate the development of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) years before symptoms appear, a disorder that has been associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.

The research, published in the journal “Translational Psychiatry”, used data from over 100 sets of twins from TwinsUK, the biggest adult twin cohort in the UK. The use of 55 identical twin-pairs in the study allowed researchers to show that the association between the blood protein and a ten year decline in cognitive ability was independent of age and genetics, both of which are already known to affect the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.

The study, the largest of its kind to date, measured over 1,000 proteins in the blood of over 200 healthy individuals using a laboratory test called SOMAscan*, a protein biomarker discovery tool that simultaneously measures a wide range of different proteins. Using a computerised test, the researchers then assessed each individual’s cognitive ability, and compared the results with the measured levels of each different protein in the blood.

For the first time, they found that the blood level of a protein called MAPKAPK5 was, on average, lower in individuals whose cognitive ability declined over a ten year period.

Source:  Medical Research Council, UK

Study demonstrates that free-water provides a potential non-invasive progression marker of the substantia nigra region in the brain.

Parkinson’s disease is a CNS disorder that results from the loss of cells in various parts of the brain, including a region called the substantia nigra. The substantia nigra cells produce dopamine, a chemical messenger responsible for transmitting signals within the brain that allow for coordination of movement.

With no objective test or biomarker for Parkinson’s, there is a clear need to develop non-invasive markers of substantia nigra progression in Parkinson’s disease. This study’s authors had previously found elevated free-water levels in the substantia nigra for patients with Parkinson’s disease compared with controls in single-site and multi-site cohorts.

In this study, published in the journal “Brain”, they tested the hypotheses that free-water levels in the substantia nigra of Parkinson’s disease increase following 1 year of progression, and that baseline free-water levels in the substantia nigra predict the change in bradykinesia following 1 year.
The researchers conducted a longitudinal study in controls (n = 19) and patients with Parkinson’s disease (n = 25). Diffusion imaging and clinical data were collected at baseline and after 1 year. Free-water analyses were performed on diffusion imaging data using blinded, hand-drawn regions of interest in the posterior substantia nigra.

The results found that free water levels increases with progression of Parkinson’s disease, and predicts subsequent changes in bradykinesia and cognitive status over 1 year, thus demonstrating that free-water provides a potential non-invasive progression marker of the substantia nigra.

Longitudinal changes in free-water within the substantia nigra of Parkinson’s disease
Edward Ofori ,et al.,  DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awv136