2016 Mental Health Month: Amyloid level in blood plasma may help foresee Alzheimer’s

2016 Mental Health Month: Amyloid level in blood plasma may help foresee Alzheimer’s

It is difficult to measure the pain felt by an Alzheimer’s patient. Alzheimer’s disease slowly destroys the mind, eroding all memories that make up one’s past or with which one can identify one’s future. According to Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA), an estimated 5.1 million Americans are afflicted with the disease.

To examine the utility of plasma levels as a biomarker of the devastating disorder, a study was conducted recently on 89 participants with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) from CHeBA’s Sydney Memory & Ageing Study, 39 patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and 126 healthy individuals of matching age and gender.

Since 1949, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and participants across the United States observe the month of May as the “Mental Health Month,” creating awareness about the rising number of Americans falling prey to mental illnesses and to uphold the necessity of providing support and equal care to all.

Amyloid beta peptides form core of amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer’s patients

The study aimed to find an association between plasma levels of two amyloid beta peptides (Aβ1-40 and Aβ1-42), brain volumetrics and cognitive performance. The study, titled “The Relationship Between Plasma Aβ Levels, Cognitive Function and Brain Volumetrics: Sydney Memory and Ageing Study,” is based on the fact that amyloid beta (Aβ) peptides form the main core of amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer’s patients, and any variations in levels of Aβ in blood plasma may indicate the probability of the disease or help in its prior detection.

Lead author of the paper Dr. Anne Poljak, head of CHeBA’s Proteomics Group at the University of New South Wales, said, “While Aβ has traditionally been measured using cerebrospinal fluid, plasma presents a more accessible sample for routine collection and screening although results to date have been variable.”

Decreased levels of Aβ1-42 linked to reduced cognition

The findings, published in the journal Current Alzheimer Research in April 2016, indicated that the plasma levels of the two peptides and the Aβ1-42/1-40 ratio were more diminished in aMCI and Alzheimer’s disease when contrasted with data obtained from cognitively normal individuals. The decreased levels of Aβ1-42 were linked to reduced global cognition and hippocampal volume and higher levels of white matter hyperintensities.

The white matter hyperintensities are believed to play a vital part in Alzheimer’s disease. The longitudinal assessment pinpointed to an increased level of downswing in global cognition and memory for the highest quintiles of Aβ1-42 and the ratio measure.

Highlighting the importance of the research, co-author of the study professor Perminder Sachdev, Director, CHeBA, said, “These findings certainly suggest that plasma Aβ measures may serve as biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Road to recovery

Doctors are yet to develop an evidence-based disease altering therapy for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, which is identified as the most common form of dementia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), by 2050, an estimated 14 million are suspected to be affected with this disease.

Stressing on the prevalence of the disease that affects the elderly, Matthew Baumgart, senior director, public policy, Alzheimer’s Association, said, “Alzheimer’s is having a rapidly growing impact on American society. Alzheimer’s death rates have been rising steadily over the past 15 years — increasing 40 percent since 2000, when the new data are included.”

If you or your loved one is struggling with any kind of mental illness, including Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, you may get in touch with the Sovereign Mental Health Services to know about relevant mental health programs. Chat online with one of our experts today or call at the 24/7 helpline number 866-954-0529 for further information about mental health facilities.

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