Biomarker could improve accuracy and health equity in Alzheimer's disease diagnosis
Mayo Clinic researchers have identified molecular markers in plasma that can potentially improve the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease in African Americans.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting 6.2 million people in the United States. Mayo Clinic's study is the first to focus on RNA molecules in plasma as biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease in African Americans — the population at greatest risk for developing the disease.
"Having a comprehensive panel of biomarkers for use in screening will help with early detection of Alzheimer's disease and contribute to intervention strategies that can delay and mitigate the onset of the disease," says Joseph Reddy, Ph.D., a quantitative health sciences researcher in Mayo Clinic's Genetics of Alzheimer's Disease and Endophenotypes Laboratory, and the study’s first author. "This could be especially relevant for African Americans, a population underrepresented in Alzheimer's disease research."
In the study, researchers examined plasma messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules in 151 African Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and 269 African Americans diagnosed as cognitively unimpaired. The researchers found that incorporating the plasma levels of six mRNA molecules into a statistical model improved the ability to accurately identify individuals with Alzheimer's disease by 8%. That gain is an improvement compared with models that account only for known risk factors.
The researchers predict that this discovery could contribute to the development of more accessible, minimally invasive screening options, enabling improved disease management.