Plasma lipids: harbingers of AD?

A panel of plasma lipids could represent a new diagnostic tool for identifying patients likely to develop Alzheimer's disease before symptoms appear, according to new clinical findings from a team of U.S. researchers.1 Although the lipid panel could help enrich clinical trials of AD therapeutics for likely responders, validation studies will need to confirm its specificity for AD over other forms of dementia.

Diagnosis of AD and its precursor, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), currently involves detecting changes in biomarkers that often occur together with or after the onset of neurocognitive symptoms. In addition, measuring levels of the key biomarkers-b-amyloid (Ab) and its peptides, and microtubule-associated protein-t (MAPT; tau; FTDP-17)-requires invasive procedures such as lumbar puncture or costly and time-consuming methods such as PET imaging or functional MRI scans.

Simple blood tests to detect AD noninvasively before the onset of symptoms have become the Holy Grail for diagnosing the disease. Several studies have tried to correlate the progression of MCI to AD with blood levels of small molecules, Ab peptides, tau or other proteins.2-4 However, none has identified blood markers that could predict which cognitively normal individuals are at risk of developing

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