A recent study from Johns Hopkins has suggested that a test for two Alzheimer's-related proteins in the cerebral-spinal fluid (CSF) may give clues that something is amiss in brain chemistry as much as 5 years before the cognitive symptoms are seen.
The new work builds on earlier observations that the CSF of patients with advanced Alzheimer's shows abnormal levels of two proteins, phosphorylated tau and beta-amyloid. These proteins are both found near sites of brain damage, so it made sense that they would be detectable in the brain fluid of these advanced patients. The new feature of the Johns Hopkins study is that these same proteins, or at least their ratios, are present in the CSF before the study population had developed symptoms of cognitive decline.
Amyloid plaques, seen here as fuzzy black blotches, in
the brain of a person who died of Alzheimer's disease.
Credit: University of Utah pathology