Plasma neuroinflammatory biomarkers for the diagnosis of dementia subtypes

  • Pase, Matthew (Primary Chief Investigator (PCI))
  • Gonzales, Mitzi (Chief Investigator (CI))
  • Himali, Jayandra (Chief Investigator (CI))
  • Cruchaga, Carlos (Chief Investigator (CI))
  • Zilli, Eduardo (Chief Investigator (CI))
  • Satizabal, Claudia Liliana (Chief Investigator (CI))
  • Lim, Yen Ying (Chief Investigator (CI))
  • Seshadri, Sudha (Chief Investigator (CI))

Project: Research

Project Details

Project Description

There are many common causes of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular disease, Lewy Bodies, Parkinson’s disease, and Frontotemporal degeneration. The diseases that cause dementia are challenging to diagnose, given the variability in clinical presentation and the lack of disease-specific biomarkers that are accessible, affordable, and non-invasive. Improving diagnostic certainty may have far-reaching implications for patient wellbeing, quality of life, long-term care planning, prognosis, timely intervention, and research engagement.

Chronic brain inflammation is a common feature of many types of dementia. Our team has recently shown that brain inflammation biomarkers can be detected in blood and that blood levels associate with thinking and memory performance, brain volume loss, and reliably identify patients with dementia relative to non-demented controls. We propose that blood biomarkers of brain inflammation will help with the differential diagnosis of the different dementia subtypes, particularly when combined with other existing and novel dementia blood biomarkers.

We will examine if blood biomarkers of neuroinflammation differentiate the most common dementia syndromes in an ethnically diverse cohort of patients with newly diagnosed dementia. We will classify 600 participants recruited from our dementia clinics across two sites (University of Texas Health and Washington University in St. Louis) as having dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease (N=120), vascular disease (N=120), Lewy bodies (N=120), or frontotemporal degeneration (N=120). Healthy controls (N=120) will be used for comparison. Each patient's diagnosis will be confirmed using gold-standard assessments. Blood biomarkers of neuroinflammation (i.e., YKL-40, sCD14, and GFAP) will be measured from each participant alongside the latest cutting-edge dementia blood biomarkers. We will examine if neuroinflammation biomarkers can diagnose the different dementia subtypes and define the optimal set of biomarkers for each diagnosis. Our work will inform on the biology of neuroinflammation in different dementias and pave the way for new minimally invasive diagnostic tools for clinical use.
Effective start/end date1/01/2231/12/23


  • Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation: A$971,915.25


  • biomarkers
  • dementia
  • neuroinflammation