Researchers at NYU School of Medicine have found that elevated cerebrospinal fluid levels of phosphorylated tau231 (P-tau231), a damaged tau protein found in patients with Alzheimer's disease, may be an early diagnostic biomarker for Alzheimer's disease in healthy adults.
The study published this month online by Neurobiology of Aging shows that high levels of P-tau231 predict future memory decline and loss of brain gray matter in the medial temporal lobe - a key memory center. Prior studies found the medial temporal lobe to be the most vulnerable brain region in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease accumulating damaged tau proteins in the form of neurofibrillary tangles. Tangles are one of the signature indicators of Alzheimer's disease, in addition to beta amyloid plaques.
"Our research results show for the first time that elevated levels of P-tau231 in normal individuals can predict memory decline and accompanying brain atrophy," said lead author Lidia Glodzik, MD, PhD, assistant research professor, Department of Psychiatry at the Center for Brain Health and Center of Excellence on Brain Aging at NYU School of Medicine. "Our findings suggest that P-tau231 has the potential to be an important diagnostic tool in the pre-symptomatic stages of Alzheimer's disease."