University of New South Wales School of Psychiatry Professor Perminder Sachdev and his team looked at a type of protein which transports cholesterol in the blood, and found they were abnormal in patients with mild cognitive impairment.
Essentially, this is one step towards developing a suite of biomarkers of different proteins that will identify individuals with mild cognitive impairment and who will probably go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia in the future.
Evidence suggests these proteins are involved in Alzheimer’s disease and some other brain diseases, Professor Sachdev says.
The researchers examined more than 1,000 study participants over a two-year period. About half of the group also had Magnetic Resonance Imaging brain scans and were rated according to their cognitive impairment.
“These types of proteins (Apolipoproteins) have been of interest in Alzheimer’s disease for a number of reasons,” Professor Sachdev says.
“It is know that one variant of the gene for one type of apolipoprotein increases the risk of Alzheimer’s. Another of these proteins has been found in the brain lesions of people with Alzheimer’s.
Abnormal levels of both were found in the blood of older individuals with memory problems, and these levels tended to predict who showed worsening of their mental functions over two years.
As early indicators of cognitive decline, these apolipoproteins may also become targets of treatment or preventative healthcare measures, the study authors say.