Low Levels Of NPTXX2 protein Could Signal Onset of Alzheimer’s, Study Shows

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According to a long-term study by John Hopkins on cognitively healthy individuals, presence of a certain protein in the body may offer an important warning sign about patients at risk for Alzheimer’s diseases before onset of symptoms.

Low levels of protein NPTX2 linked to cognitive impairment

The study indicates that low spinal fluid levels of the protein NPTX2, linked to memory and learning, could potentially signal mild cognitive impairment (MCI) up to seven years before symptoms arise. According to the research low NPTX2 levels are not only connected to MCI and Alzheimer’s risk, but also offer a predictive value for cognitive decline, even when considering conventional biomarkers and genetic risk factors.

The study involved 250 middle-aged White adults and confirmed earlier research, indicating that measuring NPTX2 in cerebrospinal fluid can predict the onset of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) up to seven years before symptoms appear.

Associate neurology professor at the John Hopkins University and the study’s corresponding author Anja Soldan said that the research indicates that NPTX2 levels decrease long before MCI or Alzheimer’s symptoms appear, suggesting potential for new treatments targeting NPTX2. This protein is not exclusive to Alzheimer’s and could relate to various neurodegenerative diseases. Elevating NPTX2 levels might help identify and address other memory-related issues early on.

Higher tau levels associated with decline in NPTX2 levels

The study found that 77 individuals developed mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia within or after seven years of the initial measurements. Among them, 88% were initially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s as a primary or secondary cause of dementia. Those who developed MCI had approximately 15% lower NPTX2 levels during the baseline compared to those who did not experience cognitive impairment. This difference remained significant even after considering baseline Alzheimer’s biomarkers and genetic factors.

Furthermore, higher levels of tau and phosphor-tau, key proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease, were linked to greater declines in NPTX2 over time. This suggests that NPTX2 may decrease in response to the progression of tau.

The Alzheimer’s Association states that MCI affects around 18% of individuals above 60 and its symptoms encompass issues like language difficulties, memory loss, and problems with executive function.

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