A novel blood-based biomarker test has been shown to predict with over 90% accuracy the likelihood of a healthy individual developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer’s disease within three years. The results of the study on the test were published online March 9 in Nature Medicine.

Mark Mapstone, PhD, from the University of Rochester School of Medicine, and colleagues from six other institutions enrolled 525 community-dwelling healthy individuals aged ≥70 for the 5-year observational study. Participants were defined into three main groups as amnestic mild cognitive impairment or mild Alzheimer’s disease (aMCI/AD), phenoconverted (Converter), and Normal Control (NC). During the study, 74 participants met criteria foraMCI/AD, 46 at entry were incidental cases, and 28 at entry were  Converters from nonimpaired memory status.

RELATED: Neurologic Disorders Resource Center

Researchers examined 124 plasma samples from the 106 discovery-phase individuals for untargeted metabolomic analysis. The phospholipid biomarker test accurately predicted over 90% of eventual phenoconvert from cognitive intactness to aMCI or AD through the test revealing lower plasma levels of serotonin, phenylalanine, proline, lysine, phosphatidylcholine (PC), taurine, and acylcarnitine (AC). The authors posit that this shows neural cell membranes failing in individuals who will phenoconvert from cognitive intactness to aMCI or AD.

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, although treatments are available. Efforts to develop medications to slow or reverse the progression of Alzheimer’s disease have not been successful, possibly due to the evaluation of the drugs late in the disease process. By identifying the disease prior to onset, interventions could be developed for disease modification.

Visit the Nature Medicine website for the abstract and full article.