Transitioning from cerebrospinal fluid to blood tests to facilitate diagnosis and disease monitoring in Alzheimer’s disease
Journal of Inernal Medicine | May 22, 2021
Alawode DOT, Heslegrave AJ, Ashton NJ, Karikari TK, Simrén J, Montoliu-Gaya L, Pannee J, A OC, Weston PSJ, Lantero-Rodriguez J, Keshavan A, Snellman A, Gobom J, Paterson RW, Schott JM, Blennow K, Fox NC and Zetterberg H
Journal of internal medicine. 2021
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is increasingly prevalent worldwide, and disease-modifying treatments may soon be at hand; hence now, more than ever, there is a need to develop techniques that allow earlier and more secure diagnosis. Current biomarker-based guidelines for AD diagnosis, which have replaced the historical symptom-based guidelines, rely heavily on neuroimaging and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) sampling. Whilst these have greatly improved the diagnostic accuracy of AD pathophysiology, they are less practical for application in primary care, population-based and epidemiological settings, or where resources are limited. In contrast, blood is a more accessible and cost-effective source of biomarkers in AD. In this review paper, using the recently proposed amyloid, tau and neurodegeneration [AT(N)] criteria as a framework towards a biological definition of AD, we discuss recent advances in biofluid-based biomarkers, with a particular emphasis on those with potential to be translated into blood-based biomarkers. We provide an overview of the research conducted both in CSF and in blood to draw conclusions on biomarkers that show promise. Given the evidence collated in this review, plasma neurofilament light chain (N), and phosphorylated tau (p-tau; T) show particular potential for translation into clinical practice. However, p-tau requires more comparisons to be conducted between its various epitopes before conclusions can be made as to which one most robustly differentiates AD from non-AD dementias. Plasma amyloid beta (A) would prove invaluable as an early screening modality, but it requires very precise tests and robust pre-analytical protocols.