Alzheimer's Biomarkers: Overview of existing and future biomarkers

Author: David J Moffa, PhD, BCLD
Reviewers: Kevin F. Foley, PhD, DABCC, MT, SC, TC(NRCC); Jenny Camele, MT(ASCP)

This course describes Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and reviews the latest facts and statistics. Upon completion of this course, the user will understand the signs, symptoms, and stages of AD and describe Alzheimer’s causes, risk factors and prevention. A summary of the current methods used to diagnose AD is presented, along with the role of genetics in AD. The key AD biomarkers and their availability in CSF and Blood are discussed as well as the current commercially-available biomarker tests and treatments for AD.

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Continuing Education Credits

  • P.A.C.E.® Contact Hours: 1.5 hour(s)
  • Florida Board of Clinical Laboratory Science CE - General (Molecular Pathology): 1.5 hour(s)

Objectives

  • Describe Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and review the latest facts and statistics.
  • Understand the signs, symptoms and stages of AD.
  • Describe Alzheimer’s causes, risk factors and prevention.
  • Summarize the current methods used to diagnose AD.
  • Explain the role of genetics in AD and describe risk genes and deterministic genes.
  • Describe the key AD biomarkers and their availability in CSF and Blood.
  • Review the current commercially-available biomarker tests for AD.
  • Discuss the current treatments for AD.

Course Outline

  • Alzheimer's Disease (AD): Overview
      • Definition, Facts, and Statistics
      • Signs, Symptoms, and Stages
      • Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention
      • Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention (Continued)
      • Which of the following statements correctly describes Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)?
      • Which “stage” of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is typically the longest (often lasting for many years) with the individual having difficu...
      • Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors.
  • Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD):
      • Overview and Diagnostic Approaches
      • Overview and Diagnostic Approaches (Continued)
      • Which statements are correct regarding the diagnosis of AD?
      • Which specific type of PET scan measures the neurofibrillary tangles in the brain?
      • Genetic testing of certain genes involved in the development of AD are available, and the use of such genetic testing for routine AD evaluation is now...
  • Genetics of AD
      • Risk Genes and Deterministic Genes
      • Risk Genes and Deterministic Genes (Continued)
      • Summary on Genetic Testing for AD
      • In a small percentage of AD cases, genetic mutations occurring in certain genes can directly cause AD. What is the name given to these genes?
  • Alzheimer's Disease (AD) Biomarkers
      • AD Biomarkers: Overview
      • AD Biomarkers: Key Biomarkers
      • AD Biomarkers: Key Biomarkers (Continued)
      • AD Biomarkers: Key Biomarkers (Continued)
      • AD Biomarkers: Key Biomarkers (Continued)
      • CSF or Blood Biomarkers for AD?
      • Which statements are true relative to biomarkers for AD?
      • Which peptide when deposited in plaques can be found in low levels in the CSF and may be a key biomarker of AD?
      • A blood assay to detect IRS-1 protein has been developed and studied. Studies have shown that individuals with AD may have lower blood levels of the i...
      • What are the limitations to the use of CSF for measuring biomarkers of AD?
  • Commercially-available Biomarker Tests for AD Assessment
      • Quest Diagnostic’s Beta-Amyloid 42/40 Ratio and Apolipoprotein E (APOE) Isoform Panel:
      • LabCorp’s APOE Alzheimer’s Risk Test:
      • Athena Diagnostic’s ADmark Alzheimer’s Evaluation
      • Which of the following are true statements when describing the Quest Diagnostic’s AB42/40 ratio and APOE isoform Panel test?
      • One limitation for using LabCorp’s APOE Alzheimer’s Risk Test is that the presence of the APOE e4 isoform does increase the risk of late o...
      • The Athena Diagnostic’s ADmark Alzheimer’s Evaluation test measures which AD biomarkers?
  • Conclusions on Biomarker Tests for AD Assessment
      • Conclusions on Biomarker Tests for AD Assessment:
      • Conclusions on Biomarker Tests for AD Assessment: Recommendations
      • What conclusions can be made on biomarker tests for the assessment of AD?
      • What statement correctly describes professional society and insurer recommendations for use of AD biomarkers?
  • Treatment of Alzheimer's Disease (AD)
      • Treatment Overview
      • Alzheimer's Drugs
      • Other Treatments
      • Which statements are true relative to the treatment of AD?
      • One of the types of current AD medications are Cholinesterase Inhibitors. These medications slow the progression of symptoms associated with moderate ...
  • References
      • References

Additional Information

Level of instruction: Intermediate

Intended audience: Clinical laboratory professionals including medical laboratory scientists, medical technologists, and technicians. This course is also appropriate for clinical laboratory science and MLT students, pathologists, and clinicians.

Author information: David J. Moffa, PhD, BCLD, has over 30 years of experience in the healthcare industry as an executive manager, clinical laboratory director, and medical laboratory scientist. He is currently a technical consultant for Kentmere Healthcare, Wilmington, DE, and until his retirement, was the Regional Director for LabCorp, Inc. He holds a PhD in medical biochemistry from the School of Medicine, West Virginia University.

Reviewer information: Kevin F. Foley, PhD, DABCC, MT, SC is the director of clinical pathology for the Kaiser Permanente Northwest region. He also teaches clinical chemistry at Oregon Health Sciences University. Dr. Foley earned his PhD in clinical pharmacology and toxicology at East Carolina School of Medicine in North Carolina.

Reviewer information: Prior to her retirement in 2012, Jenny Camele was employed by Laboratory Corporation of America as the manager of customer service operations for the Fairmont West Virginia Region and a Quality Assurance committee member. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Technology from West Virginia University.

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A depiction of a healthy brain vs. a severe Alzheimer’s brain.  By the final stage of Alzheimer’s Disease, the brain tissue shrinks significantly. 
(Abnormal deposits of proteins form amyloid plaques and tau tangles throughout the brain. Once-healthy neurons stop functioning, lose connections with
Structure of Amyloid Beta
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Tau and P-Tau Protein
IRS-1 Structure