Midlife blood test can detect early dementia risk in women

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Researchers have made a significant stride in the early detection and potential intervention of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, especially in middle-aged women.

This groundbreaking study, published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, identifies two blood biomarkers that are linked to changes in cognitive function during midlife.

The study focused on two serum biomarkers: amyloid β (Aβ)42 and its ratio Aβ42/40, and phosphorylated tau181 (p-tau181).

The research team, led by Xin Wang, a research assistant professor in the epidemiology department at the University of Michigan, analyzed these biomarkers in 192 middle-aged women over a 14-year period as part of the Study on Women’s Health Across the Nation, Michigan Cohort.

The findings revealed a significant correlation: higher levels of p-tau181 were associated with accelerated cognitive decline, while lower Aβ42/40 levels were linked to faster cognitive decline.

This discovery suggests that blood AD (Alzheimer’s Disease) biomarker assessments during midlife could serve as early predictors of cognitive decline, presenting an opportunity for earlier detection and preventive measures before the onset of irreversible dementia.

Wang emphasized the novelty and potential impact of the study, acknowledging the need for further research with a larger and more diverse sample size.

The significance of this research lies in its potential to provide less invasive and possibly more affordable methods for neurological testing. Currently, such testing often requires lumbar punctures for cerebral fluid analysis and expensive PET scans.

The study also highlighted the importance of midlife as a critical period for identifying cognitive decline in women.

This period is marked by two major changes: the menopausal transition, characterized by a sharp reduction in estrogen levels and irreversible ovarian alterations, and the higher prevalence of cardiometabolic risk factors like hypertension and diabetes.

Both factors are linked to an elevated risk of cognitive decline and dementia in older age.

While Wang cautioned that the presence of these biomarkers does not necessarily indicate Alzheimer’s disease, their connection to neuropathological changes is crucial for early detection.

This research, although based on a small sample, presents a promising foundation for future studies with larger, more diverse populations.

The implications of these findings could pave the way for more proactive, preventive healthcare strategies for women at risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

If you care about Alzheimer’s, please read studies about the likely cause of Alzheimer’s disease , and new non-drug treatment that could help prevent Alzheimer’s.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about diet that may help prevent Alzheimer’s, and results showing some dementia cases could be prevented by changing these 12 things.

The research findings can be found in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

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