The research team at University College London has discovered that combining spinal fluid testing with MRI scans could provide an early indication if an individual is at risk of developing Alzheimer's.
The researchers analysed 105 cognitively normal individuals and grouped them into those with high and low levels of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) amyloid, a protein which is typically reduced in the CSF of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
MRI scan measurements were used over 12 months to calculate the brain shrinkage and the team also checked for other risk factors such as the presence of known Alzheimer’s risk gene APOE4.
The study results revealed that brains of normal individuals who had low levels of CSF levels of amyloid (38% of the group), shrank twice as quickly as the other group.
This group was five times more likely to possess the APOE4 risk gene and had higher levels of tau – another culprit Alzheimer’s protein.
According to the researchers, this approach may allow scientists to test treatments or preventions far earlier for the Alzheimer’s disease.