Scientists at the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute (BRNI) have isolated a biomarker in skin cells that may lead to a test with a quick and accurate yes-or-no answer to whether or not a patient is showing early signs of the Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

In an article published in the online August 14 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at BRNI describe a biomarker that can accurately distinguish between Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia during the first one to two years of the disease’s progression.

The scientists tested the biomarker with human skin cells from a tissue bank, as well as with samples obtained from patients with autopsy-confirmed diagnoses. They looked for signs of Alzheimer’s-related inflammation in skin fibroblasts and found that Alzheimer’s disease causes a change in the enzyme, MAP kinase Erk1/2. When fibroblasts are exposed to bradykinin, an inflammatory signal, the Erk 1/2 response in fibroblasts isolated from the skin of Alzheimer’s patients was sharply distinguished from age-matched controls. It was also different from fibroblasts from patients with non-Alzheimer’s dementias.

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