New Blood Biomarker (Abnormal Astrocyte Reactivity) Can Predict If Cognitively Healthy Elderly Will Develop Alzheimer’s Disease

Why do some people develop Alzheimer’s disease while others do not? And, even more puzzlingly, why do many individuals whose brains are chock-full of toxic amyloid aggregates—a telltale sign of Alzheimer’s brain pathology—never go on to develop Alzheimer’s-associated dementias? University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers appear to have found the answer. Star-shaped brain cells called astrocytes are key to swaying the pendulum in Alzheimer’s disease progression, shows new game-changing research published on May29, 2023 in Nature Medicine. The open-access article is titled “Astrocyte Reactivity Influences Amyloid-Βeta Effects on Tau Pathology in Preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease.” By testing the blood of more than 1,000 cognitively unimpaired elderly people with and without amyloid pathology, the Pitt-led research team found that only those who had a combination of amyloid burden and blood markers of abnormal astrocyte activation, or reactivity, would progress to symptomatic Alzheimer’s in the future, a critical discovery for drug development aimed at halting disease progression.
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