The blood samples were collected over several years, and on multiple occasions, from 1 182 patients with different degrees of cognitive impairment, and 401 healthy subjects in a control group.
Very sensitive methods have been developed in recent years to measure the presence of certain substances in blood that can indicate damage in the brain and neurological diseases such as Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis (MS) and Alzheimer's. Neurofilament light protein (NFL) is one such substance.
Standard - Methods - Nerve - Cell - Damage
"Standard methods for indicating nerve cell damage involve measuring the patient's level of certain substances using a lumbar puncture, or examining a brain MRI. These methods are complicated, take time and are costly. Measuring NFL in the blood can be cheaper and is also easier for the patient," explains Niklas Mattsson, researcher at Lund University and physician at Skåne University Hospital, who led the study.
When nerve cells in the brain are damaged or die, NFL protein leaks into the cerebrospinal fluid and onwards into the blood. It was previously known that the levels of NFL are elevated among people with neurodegenerative diseases, but there has been a lack of long-term studies.
NFL - Concentration - Increases - Time - Alzheimer
"We discovered that the NFL concentration increases over time in Alzheimer's disease and that these elevated levels also are in line with the accumulated brain damage, which we can measure using lumbar punctures or magnetic resonance imaging," says Niklas Mattsson.
The new study focuses on the common form of the disease, sporadic Alzheimer's disease. It is one of the most widespread chronic diseases in the world and the most common cause of dementia. The researchers have analysed a large number of blood samples collected over several years from a total of 1 583 patients.
Study - Results - Alzheimer - Disease - Form
"A recently published small-scale German-American study presented similar results on familial Alzheimer's disease, a very rare form of the disease that is strongly related to heredity....
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