According to a new study, a blood biomarker could help diagnose vascular dementia in its early stages.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, and the one that most people are aware of. It causes some 70% of dementia cases.
Other forms include Lewy body dementiaTrusted Source and vascular dementia. And it can be hard for physicians to tell the different types of dementia apart.
One major cause of cognitive decline and dementia in older people is cerebral small vessel disease Trusted Source. This results in decreased blood flow to key areas of the brain and increased permeability of the blood-brain barrierTrusted Source.
The symptoms of this vascular dementia can often be confused with those of other forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, particularly in the early stages. And early diagnosis is difficult, requiring MRI or CT scans to identify key changes, such as white matter hyperintensitiesTrusted Source, microbleeds, and brain atrophy. Now, a study from the University of California Los Angeles has shown that high levels of placental growth factor (PlGF) in the blood can indicate the vascular damage responsible for this type of dementia.
The study was part of the MarkVCID Consortium, established in 2016, which aims to understand exactly how vascular brain injury contributes to dementia.
The findings are published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s AssociationTrusted Source. Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, vascular dementia alone is responsible for 5–10% of dementia cases. However, it often coexists with Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body dementia. Dr. Bin Xu, assistant professor at the Bio manufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE) in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at North Carolina Central University, not involved in the research, welcomed the study findings “This new discovery of placental growth factor-based biomarker has important diagnostic and prognostic significance for vascular cognitive impairment,” he added. In vascular dementia, cognitive decline is caused by a lack of blood flow to areas of the brain. This can be a result of a sudden change, such as a strokeTrusted Source, or by the more gradual changes of cerebral small vessel disease.