Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Alzheimer's Research & Therapy and BioMed Central.

Review

Biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease in plasma, serum and blood - conceptual and practical problems

Douglas Galasko1* and Todd E Golde2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0948, USA

2 Department of Neuroscience, College of Medicine, University of Florida, 1275 Center Drive, BMS J-497, P.O. Box 100159, Gainesville, FL32610-0159, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Alzheimer's Research & Therapy 2013, 5:10  doi:10.1186/alzrt164

Published: 7 March 2013

Abstract

Substances produced throughout the body are detectable in the blood, which is the most common biological fluid used in clinical testing. Biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease (AD) have long been sought in the blood, but none has become an established or validated diagnostic test. Companion reviews in Alzheimer's Research & Therapy will review specific types of biomarkers or applications; in this overview, we cover key concepts related to AD blood biomarker studies in general. Reasons for the difficulty of detecting markers of a brain-specific disorder, such as AD, in the blood are outlined; these pose conceptual challenges for blood biomarker discovery and development. Applications of blood tests in AD go beyond screening and diagnostic testing; other potential uses are risk assessment, prognostication, and evaluation of treatment target engagement, toxicity, and outcome. Opportunities and questions that may surround these different uses are discussed. A systematic approach to biomarker discovery, detection, assay development and quality control, sample collection, handling and storage, and design and analysis of clinical studies needs to be implemented at every step of discovery and translation to identify an interpretable and useful biomarker.