A new study, published in the journal Nature Medicine , revealed that a simple blood test can predict the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease about 16 years before its onset.
Through the exam, it is possible to check the level of a protein called, in English, NLC.
It is present in neurons and, when brain damage begins to occur, it leaks into the cerebrospinal fluid (fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord), then reaches the bloodstream.
As one of the characteristics of Alzheimer’s is, precisely, the accumulation of plaques of this protein, the early identification of these rates, even many years before, can be a warning sign, even for other neurodegenerative diseases, which also present concentrations of this protein.
To reach this discovery, the experiment, with more than 400 people, was divided into two types of volunteers: those who already had a case of Alzheimer’s in the family and had a propitious genetics for development, and those who had no observable tendency.
In the results, seen through blood samples and brain images, the concentration of the protein (neurofilament NLC) appeared at high levels in people who had genetics favorable to the disease.
In the other participants, however, with no predisposing factors, the level remained low.
The researchers also associate these high levels not only with Alzheimer’s, but also with brain losses and cognitive decline, as it was observed that the higher the rate of NLC, the greater the damage to memory.