Changes in key biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease during midlife may help identify those who will develop dementia years later, new research suggests.
The study focused on data gathered over 10 years and involved 169 cognitively normal research participants ages 45 to 75 when they entered the study. Each participant received a complete clinical, cognitive imaging, and cerebrospinal fluid biomarker analysis every three years, with a minimum of two evaluations.
At the participants’ initial assessments, researchers divided them into three age groups: early-middle age (45-54); mid-middle age (55- 64); and late-middle age (65-74).
The changes were more pronounced in people who carried a form of a gene that significantly increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The gene is known as APOE, and scientists have known that people with two copies of a particular version of this gene have up to 10 times the risk of developing Alzheimer’s as those with other versions of the gene.
“It’s too early to use these biomarkers to definitively predict whether individual patients will develop Alzheimer’s disease, but we’re working toward that goal,” says Anne Fagan, a neurology professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.