There is no single test that will diagnose Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and a diagnosis of possible or probable AD is currently based on neuropsychological tests together with advanced brain imaging techniques such as functional MRI or PET scans. Simple and reliable diagnostic tests for AD are much needed, and researchers at the University of Georgia have now shown that the levels of two antibodies in the blood correlate with the severity of AD symptoms and may provide just such a test. The team had previously shown that levels of anti-Aβ and anti-RAGE antibodies were significantly higher in AD patients than in healthy individuals and the latest study reveals a direct relationship between the severity of disease and the levels of the two antibodies. Much evidence points to a link between AD and elevated levels of β-amyloid (Aβ) peptides. Binding of Aβ to neuronal membrane receptors for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) is believed to trigger inflammation and contribute to the neurological damage characteristic of AD.
Although it could be years before a diagnostic test based on their work is available for clinical use, the researchers hope that it will, one day, provide a way of identifying people with early AD and those at risk of developing the disease. The study is published in full in The Journals of Gerontology.