Volunteer - Sant Pau Memory Unit - Alzheimer Research - Barcelona

SPIN cohort

Sant Pau Initiative on Neurodegeneration

1. What is the SPIN cohort?

The main objective of the SPIN cohort (Sant Pau Initiative on Neurodegeneration) is to widen our knowledge of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia and frontotemporal lobe degeneration, through the study of biochemical and neuroimaging markers (also known as biomarkers). This can only be achieved through collaboration with patients and healthy volunteers to whom we ask to complete a series of neuropsychological and analytical tests.

Follow-up visits are scheduled annually (see workflow). The information gleaned from these tests helps us to better understand how biomarkers and memory performance relate to each other and how they change over time.

SPIN cohort Workflow - Sant Pau Memory Unit - Barcelona

2. What are the tests required?

The following INITIAL TESTS are required for all participants:

  • Neuropsychological evaluation: 60-90 minutes

    • This evaluation consists of a series of oral and writing tests that are designed to assess memory, language, visuospatial orientation, and other cognitive skills. Additionally, specific questionnaires about current and previous memory performance and about daily living activities are also required to be filled out by both the participant and a proxy.

  • Biological samples extraction: 90-120 minutes

    • Lumbar puncture for CSF extraction: Cerebrospinal fluid (or CSF) is in direct contact with our central nervous system. Through a lumbar puncture we can extract a sample of CSF for its analysis. Lumbar puncture is a common procedure in neurology, and in our Memory Unit, it is always performed by a trained and experienced neurologist. The procedure is completed in approximately 20 minutes and is followed by a blood extraction. A relative rest of 30-45mins is required after the procedure.

    • Blood extraction: Through blood extraction we can obtain plasma and serum samples for biomarker studies. Genetic information can also be analyzed from a blood test.

  • Brain MRI: 45-60 minutes

    • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a radiation-free imaging technique that allows us to obtain an accurate representation of the structure of our brain. This is a routine test in neurology.

In a subset of participants, one or more of the following ADDITIONAL TESTS may be offered:

  • Additional neuropsychological evaluation: 45-60 minutes

    • Additional oral and writing tests not included in the basic evaluation.

  • Positron emission tomography (fluorodeoxyglucose): 90-120 minutes

    • Imaging technique that allows the visualization of metabolic activity in different regions of the brain.

  • Positron emission tomography (amyloid-PET): 90-120 minutes

    • Imaging technique that allows the visualization of amyloid deposition in different regions of the brain.

3. What have we learnt thanks to the SPIN cohort?

Check here to see the summary of peer-reviewed publications and scientific communications that have been reported thanks to the 400+ SPIN cohort participants that we have received thus far.

4. Can I participate?

Recruitment of new participants in the SPIN cohort is currently open. More information on how to participate can be found here.