A large-scale study on the cause and treatment of Alzheimer’s has provided us with key insights on its prognosis. A team of researchers from the NIH National Institute on Aging has identified proteins and certain biological processes that could be key biomarkers as well as treatment targets. These proteins are responsible for glucose metabolism and in protecting the brain’s support cells.
Published in the journal Nature Medicine, the study found strong links with the pathology and cognitive impairment associated with Alzheimer’s. It was part of the larger Accelerating Medicines Partnership for Alzheimer’s Disease (AMP-AD). Under this, over 3,000 proteins from the brain and cerebrospinal fluids were collected. This meant analyzing proteins from more than 2,000 brains and approximately 400 cerebrospinal fluid samples. This included Alzheimer’s patients as well as healthy people.
The team analyzed how the proteins behaved under different clinical and pathological features in neurogenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s. During this, they observed changes in proteins that are involved in glucose metabolism anti-inflammatory response of the brain’s glial cells. They concluded that the anti-inflammatory processes meant to protect nerve cells were likely triggered by the onset of neurogenerative disorders. Like brain tissue, proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid are also increased when glucose is metabolized in people with Alzheimer’s. They found this pattern in preclinical Alzheimer’s. These proteins are known to be genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s.