Detecting levels of Alzheimer’s biomarkers-amyloid β and tau proteins in eye fluid may potentially help detect early dementia in individuals at risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), reported a new study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. The study which was led by researchers from Boston Medical Center is the first to correlate AD related proteins in the eye to mental status.
Abnormal amounts of amyloid-β and tau proteins are biomarkers of AD and their accumulation in the brain may begin many years prior to symptoms of the disease. Diagnosing AD at an early stage could help provide treatment even before appearance of the symptoms which is key in managing the disease.
To evaluate levels of biomarkers in the eye, the researchers collected vitreous humour samples from 80 patients who were scheduled for surgery. The fluids retracted during surgery is typically discarded after the procedure. The samples were measured quantitatively for Aβ42, p tau, and t tau proteins which were correlated to the results of baseline cognitive test. Low levels of these biomarker proteins were significantly found to be associated with lower cognitive scores among the patients.
“These findings could help us build an accessible, and minimally invasive test to determine Alzheimer’s disease risk, especially among patients with eye disease,” said Lauren Wright, MD, a lead author of the study and ophthalmology fellow at BMC, in a press statement. “We noted that some of the participants who had low levels of protein biomarkers in their eye fluid already had signs of mild to moderate dementia based on their cognitive scores.”
The clinical predictive role of AD related proteins in eyes can thus be developed into easy and reliable diagnostic approach for early diagnosis of the disease.
“This is a great step in discovering the eye’s potential role in diagnosing preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, and further study is needed in comparing protein biomarkers in the eye with more in-depth neurological testing,” stated Manju Subramanian, MD, senior author, principal investigator, and ophthalmologist at BMC.