Inflammatory marker could be early warning for dementia


A new study has found a blood plasma linked to inflammation that could be a warning signal for certain dementias.


Every 65 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease.


In fact, around 5.8 million people in the U.S. live with the condition, which can impact a person’s ability to think, speak, remember, relate to others, and perform everyday tasks.


Dementia is one of the world’s fastest-growing causes of death, topping breast cancer and prostate cancer together as the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.


Dementia is an umbrella term referring to a number of conditions that result from abnormal brain changes that affect the ability to think. It has a number of potential causes.


Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, followed by vascular dementia, which stems from microscopic bleeding and blood vessel blockage in the brain. Other causes include vitamin deficiency and thyroid problems.


“Dementia is a complex syndrome often resulting from numerous causes,” lead study author Dr. Matthew Pase of the Florey Institute for Neuroscience and Mental Health in Melbourne, Australia said.


The study set out to test the link between an inflammatory marker in blood (sCD14) and incident dementia. The hope is that these biomarkers would ultimately pave the way to predicting dementia.


“In addition to biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease (i.e., amyloid and tau), biomarkers of inflammation and neuronal injury may help improve the prediction of clinical dementia,” said Dr. Pase.


What excited the researchers was the potential to assess dementia risk in advance by tapping into cost effective blood-based biomarkers to pave the way for intervention ahead of disease development, possibly changing the course of someone’s life.


“The development of cost effective blood biomarkers for dementia could improve clinical research and practice by permitting widespread low cost screening and assisting in identifying at risk participants for dementia prevention trials,” said Dr. Pase.


“Inflammation has been identified as a contributor to many neurological diseases,” explained Dr. Pase.


However, scientists do not fully understand the role of inflammation in different types of dementia.