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UCLA scientists identify how immune cells may help predict Alzheimer's risk
Date:7/13/2009

, which from birth act as the immune system's janitors, traveling through the brain and body and gobbling up waste products including amyloid beta. The monocytes were incubated overnight with amyloid beta, which was labeled with a fluorescent marker. Using a common laboratory method known as flow cytometry, researchers then measured the amount of amyloid beta ingested by the immune cells by assessing how much fluorescence was being emitted from each monocyte cell.

The 18 Alzheimer's disease patients in the study showed the least uptake of amyloid beta; the healthy control group, which consisted of 14 university professors, demonstrated the highest uptake. The method was able to distinguish with adequate sensitivity and specificity the Alzheimer's disease patients.

The results were found to be positive in 94 percent of the Alzheimer's patients and negative in 100 percent of the university professor control group. In addition, the results were found to be positive in 60 percent of study participants who suffered from mild cognitive impairment, a condition that increases the risk of developing Alzheimer's.

"Patients and control subjects were also tracked over time to see if their immune response changed," Fiala said. For example, an Alzheimer's disease patient over time showed declining results, while a university professor continued to demonstrate a high uptake of amyloid beta.

Micic noted that the new method could be a flag for further testing and interventions.

"Similar to screening patients for heart disease risk by a cholesterol test, a positive result for Alzheimer's risk in some patients may suggest further interventions and advanced diagnostics, such as a brain PET scan and neurocognitive testing."


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Contact: Rachel Champeau
rchampeau@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2270
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert  

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