Biomarkers: Our Path Towards a Cure for Alzheimer Disease
BIOMARKER INSIGHTS | NOVEMBER 25, 2020
Biomarker Insights. 2020;15:1177271920976367.
Over the last decade, biomarkers have significantly improved our understanding of the pathophysiology of Alzheimer disease (AD) and provided valuable tools to examine different disease mechanisms and their progression over time. While several markers of amyloid, tau, neuronal, synaptic, and axonal injury, inflammation, and immune dysregulation in AD have been identified, there is a relative paucity of biomarkers which reflect other disease mechanisms such as oxidative stress, mitochondrial injury, vascular or endothelial injury, and calcium-mediated excitotoxicity. Importantly, there is an urgent need to standardize methods for biomarker assessments across different centers, and to identify dynamic biomarkers which can monitor disease progression over time and/or response to potential disease-modifying treatments. The updated research framework for AD, proposed by the National Institute of Aging- Alzheimer’s Association (NIA-AA) Work Group, emphasizes the importance of incorporating biomarkers in AD research and defines AD as a biological construct consisting of amyloid, tau, and neurodegeneration which spans pre-symptomatic and symptomatic stages. As results of clinical trials of AD therapeutics have been disappointing, it has become increasingly clear that the success of future AD trials will require the incorporation of biomarkers in participant selection, prognostication, monitoring disease progression, and assessing response to treatments. We here review the current state of fluid AD biomarkers, and discuss the advantages and limitations of the updated NIA-AA research framework. Importantly, the integration of biomarker data with clinical, cognitive, and imaging domains through a systems biology approach will be essential to adequately capture the molecular, genetic, and pathological heterogeneity of AD and its spatiotemporal evolution over time.
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