Discovery May Improve Diagnosis of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Four indicators, or "biomarkers," found in cerebrospinal fluid can help differentiate patients with Alzheimer's disease from those with other forms of dementia, and a different biomarker can distinguish patients with Parkinson's disease from those with parkinsonian disorders, researchers say.

Overlapping symptoms, especially in the early stages, can make it difficult to distinguish between regular Parkinson's disease and atypical Parkinsonism, and also between Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, the study authors explained.

The investigators identified the five biomarkers by analyzing cerebrospinal fluid samples from 453 patients with Parkinson's, Parkinson's disease with dementia, Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

"Together with earlier published data, our results indicate that these five [cerebrospinal fluid] biomarkers might have clinical value in the differential diagnosis of dementia and/or parkinsonism," concluded Dr. Sara Hall, of Skane University Hospital in Sweden, and colleagues.

The study was published online Aug. 27 in the journal Archives of Neurology.

The findings represent "a significant step forward, demonstrating how a relatively modest panel of robust [cerebrospinal fluid] protein biomarkers can categorize dementias and parkinsonian syndromes on the basis of pathology rather than clinical/behavioral changes," Dr. Richard Perrin, of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, wrote in an accompanying editorial.

The use of these indicators in cerebrospinal fluid could improve the efficiency of clinical trials and speed up the development and evaluation of new treatments for neurological diseases, Perrin concluded.

More information

The National Parkinson Foundation has more about atypical Parkinsonism.

SOURCE: Archives of Neurology, news release, Aug. 27, 2012

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