Researchers Find Telltale Alzheimer's Clues in Our Blood

Study identifies 4 biological markers, raising hope that a blood test for dementia is nearer
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2024 2:16 PM CST
Four Proteins in Our Blood May Predict Alzheimer's
   (Getty / Artur Plawgo)

It's looking more and more likely that a blood test to predict Alzheimer's years before symptoms appear will be available in the not-too-distant future. In the latest development, researchers say they identified biological markers in stored blood samples that reliably forecast various forms of dementia nearly 15 years in advance, reports Reuters. The study is published in the journal Nature Aging. Scientists made use of blood samples from more than 50,000 people as part of the UK Biobank repository. From that group, about 1,400 people went on to develop Alzheimer's, vascular dementia, or another form of dementia, and the researchers went back to look for clues in their frozen samples.

  • Culprits: Researchers discovered high levels of four particular proteins in the samples: GFAP, NEFL, GDF15, and LTBP2, per Nature. Those who had higher levels of GFAP in particular were 2.3 times as likely to develop dementia, notes Reuters.
  • Reliability: "When combined with more conventional risk factors such as age, sex, education and genetic susceptibility, the protein profiles allowed researchers to predict dementia with an estimated 90% accuracy," according to the Guardian. However, further tests will have to replicate the findings before all of the above is confirmed.
  • Bottom line: "Based on this study, it does seem likely that blood tests will be developed that can predict risk for developing dementia over the next 10 years, although individuals at higher risk often have difficulty knowing how to respond," says Dr. Suzanne Schindler of Washington University in St. Louis, who was not involved in the research.
(More dementia stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.