Decision time? Read Gizmag's latest product comparisons

Bio-marker predicts rate of mental decline in Alzheimer's patients

By

March 9, 2012

A new marker of Alzheimer's disease can predict how rapidly a patient's memory and other m...

A new marker of Alzheimer's disease can predict how rapidly a patient's memory and other mental abilities will decline after the disorder is diagnosed, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (Image: Shutterstock/alison1414)

A new marker of Alzheimer's disease can predict how rapidly a patient's memory and other mental abilities will decline after the disorder is diagnosed, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Just released in Neurology were the results of a three-year long study that followed 60 patients with early Alzheimer's disease. The study found that rapid mental decline was predicted by the presence of larger levels of visinin-like protein 1 (VILIP-1) in the spinal fluid.

Part of the devastating effects of Alzheimer's disease is not knowing how rapidly or slowly the mental changes, memory loss, and eventually loss of personal identity will progress in your family member. Will you be able to celebrate your 50th wedding anniversary, or will it simply be a reminder of how much your and your spouse have lost? The general prognosis is known, but the rate at which the disease progresses varies widely from patient to patient, leaving both patient and caregivers in a sea of uncertainty.

In this study, patients with very mild or mild Alzheimer's disease were identified using an extensive battery of tests to assess their cognitive function. The researchers then measured VILIP-1 levels in the patient's spinal fluid. Cognitive testing was repeated yearly to provide data on rates of cognitive decay.

Two additional indicators were examined for predictive accuracy in the same study, the proteins amyloid beta and tau. They appear to reflect different aspects of the disease's progress. Changes in the amyloid beta and tau levels are associated with the formation of abnormal deposits of these proteins in the brain. VILIP-1 levels appear to reflect how much brain cell damage has actually occurred as the result of Alzheimer's.

In an earlier study, members of this research team showed that healthy subjects with high levels of VILIP-1 were more likely to develop cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease over a two- to three-year follow-up period. The predictive ability of measuring VILIP-1 levels thus appears to extend to healthy or presymptomatic individuals, as well as those who present with early Alzheimer's.

"Memory and other mental abilities declined faster in patients with the highest levels of VILIP-1," according to lead author Rawan Tarawneh, MD, now an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Jordan. "VILIP-1 appears to be a strong indicator of ongoing injury to brain cells as a result of Alzheimer's disease ... VILIP-1 seems to be at least as good as - and potentially even better than - the other prognostic indicators we used in the study. That could be very useful in predicting the course of the disease and in evaluating new treatments in clinical trials."

Washington University in St. Louis

About the Author
Brian Dodson From an early age Brian wanted to become a scientist. He did, earning a Ph.D. in physics and embarking on an R&D career which has recently broken the 40th anniversary. What he didn't expect was that along the way he would become a patent agent, a rocket scientist, a gourmet cook, a biotech entrepreneur, an opera tenor and a science writer.   All articles by Brian Dodson
4 Comments

Coconut oil (non-hydrogenated) has been shown to alleviate Alzheimer's.

zekegri
9th March, 2012 @ 09:16 am PST

I heard the same thing about Coconut oil- that is the direction the research should take. I think it is more helpful to provide strategies to improve the outcome rather than betting on when the end should come to someone's mind.

Carlos Grados
9th March, 2012 @ 06:26 pm PST

Death is such a waste - of time and talent.

Mr Stiffy
12th March, 2012 @ 08:14 am PDT

Remembering I have limited time gets me up and going in the morning. When I was young I wasted a lot of time sleeping. At 70 I appreciate every day more and more. Without death, no motivation would exist. Death gives value to life.

voluntaryist
18th March, 2012 @ 02:47 pm PDT
Post a Comment

Login with your gizmag account:

Or Login with Facebook:


Related Articles
Looking for something? Search our 28,693 articles