Identified two biomarkers in the blood that capture signs of Alzheimer’s disease

An international team led by the “Barcelona Beta Brain Research Center” (BBRC) has found in a study that the plasma biomarkers p-tau231 and p-tau217 are “optimal” to show the first signs of amyloid accumulation in the brain and will help promote clinical trials on the preclinical phase of Alzheimer’s disease.

The first two authors of the study, Marta Milà-Alomà and Nicholas J. Ashton, showed that the plasma biomarker p-tau231 is “particularly adapted” to capture early brain changes related to the amyloid protein, before the plaque of this protein manifests itself, reports this Thursday the research center of the Pasqual Maragall Foundation in a press release.

The results of this analysis, promoted by the La Caixa Foundation and the “European Research Council” (ERC), have been published in the journal “Nature Medicine” and indicate that p-tau231 is a blood biomarker promising for detecting cognitively healthy people at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

The analysis of blood biomarkers is an inexpensive and non-invasive procedure with great potential to help the diagnostic process of Alzheimer’s disease and, therefore, the objective of the study was to carry out an exhaustive comparison between different biomarkers, since their choice could differ depending on the type of test to be carried out .

In collaboration with the University of Gothenburg, researchers have developed the new blood biomarker p-tau231 and they compared it to five other blood biomarkers -p-tau181, p-tau217, Ab42/40, GFAP and NfL-, previously studied in the symptomatic phase of Alzheimer’s disease.


This is the first study to investigate all of these biomarkers in the preclinical phase of Alzheimer’s diseaseand the results show that p-tau231 and p-tau217 are the best blood biomarkers for detecting early signs of amyloid accumulation in the brain.

Additionally, researchers have shown that higher levels of p-tau231 in the blood predict increased amyloid accumulation and cognitive loss at the three-year follow-up.

“Biomarkers are a useful tool that could accelerate the development of new treatments targeting Alzheimer’s disease”, assured the researcher of the BBRC and the IMIM-Hospital del Mar Marc Suárez-Calvet.

To make this direct comparison between the main plasma biomarkers, the team examined its ability detect the first brain changes linked to Alzheimer’s disease in the 397 members of the Alfa+ cohort, supported by the La Caixa Foundation.

Research has shown that all plasma biomarkers are altered in the preclinical phase of the disease, but they found a noticeable difference between them“P-tau231 in plasma reaches abnormal levels with the lowest amyloid load,” Milà-Alomà said.

The study indicates that the blood biomarkers p-tau231 and p-tau217 showed the strongest association with amyloid retention in regions of early accumulation in the brain and were associated with longitudinal increases in uptake of this protein in individuals without overt amyloid pathology at the start of the study.

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