Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and frontotemporal dementia, are a growing health concern worldwide, and their diagnosis and management are still challenging. However, recent advances in blood-based biomarkers offer new opportunities for clinical evaluation and monitoring of these diseases.
In this review article, entitled “Blood Biomarkers in Neurodegenerative Diseases: Implications for the Clinical Neurologist“ and published in Neurology, researchers from Sant Pau Memory Unit, Daniel Alcolea and Alberto Lleó, together with authors from Mount Sinai (New York, USA), Sheba Medical Center Tel-Hashomer (Israel) and University of California San Francisco (San Francisco, USA) provide an overview of the current state of blood biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases and their potential implications for clinical neurologists.
The authors discuss the different types of blood biomarkers that have been studied, including those related to amyloid and tau pathologies specific to Alzheimer’s disease, as well as non-specific markers of neuronal and glial degeneration that can be found in several neurodegenerative diseases.
Specifically, the authors highlight the robustness of assays for Aß peptides and p-tau in Alzheimer’s disease. These markers have been shown to correlate with the degree of cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s disease and are being studied for screening, diagnosis, and treatment response monitoring. In addition to disease-specific markers, the authors discuss non-specific markers of neurodegeneration, including neurofilament light, ß-synuclein, and ubiquitin-C-terminal-hydrolase-L1. These markers have been shown to be elevated in several neurodegenerative diseases, and their levels correlate with disease severity and progression.
The research group of the Sant Pau Memory Unit has led numerous works focused on the research line of blood-based markers.
Potential of blood-based biomarkers
The authors highlight the potential of blood-based biomarkers to be used in different clinical settings, such as primary care, memory clinics, and research centers and discuss the advantages of using blood biomarkers over other diagnostic methods, such as imaging or cerebrospinal fluid analysis, including lower cost, less invasive procedures, and wider availability.
Overall, this review article provides a comprehensive overview of the current state of blood biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases and their potential implications for clinical neurologists. While further research is needed to validate and standardize these markers for clinical use, the authors suggest that blood-based biomarkers offer a promising avenue for the diagnosis and management of neurodegenerative diseases in the near future.