Dementia can take a number of different forms, each with overlapping symptoms but different outcomes and forms of treatment. In a busy couple of weeks for Alzheimer's disease (see related story), researchers in the Netherlands have isolated a set of biomarkers that could differentiate between different types of dementia, helping physicians and healthcare workers to provide tailored treatment or support.
In a study published in Neurology, researchers collected cerebrospinal fluid from patients with Alzheimer's disease, other forms of dementia, psychiatric disorders and subjective memory complaints and measured three biomarkers—amyloid β 42, total tau, and phosphorylated tau.
The combination of amyloid β 42 and phosphorylated tau correctly identified almost all Alzheimer's disease patients, and the diagnoses based on the biomarker profiles were similar to those based on symptoms or evidence from autopsies. While variations in the three biomarkers seem to be able to differentiate between some of the forms of dementia, other forms showed similar profiles to Alzheimer's disease, meaning that more biomarkers will be needed to differentiate these groups.
According to the researchers, CSF biomarkers could be useful in confirming clinical diagnoses of Alzheimer's disease, but more studies are needed to identify further biomarkers and link these to different disease types and states.