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Exp Gerontol. 2002 Jun;37(6):813-21.

Decrease of TGF-beta1 plasma levels and increase of nitric oxide synthase activity in leukocytes as potential biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease.

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Department of General Physiology and Biochemistry, Section of General Pathology, University of Milan, Celoria 26, I-20133 Milan, Italy.


A variety of inflammatory proteins have been identified in brains of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients, including inflammatory cytokines, acute phase proteins and complement components. In the present paper we have investigated the levels of circulating inflammatory mediators as potential biomarkers of this disease, concentrating mostly on transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta1) in plasma and on nitric oxide synthase (NOS) activity in leukocytes. Plasma and leukocytes were isolated from 48 sporadic AD and 23 healthy control subjects of same age and sex. Since alpha2-Macroglobulin (alpha2M), an acute phase protein possibly involved in AD, is an important modulator of TGF-beta1 activity, binding and targeting this cytokine to its appropriate site of action, we have investigated the possible complex between TGF-beta1 and alpha2M in plasma of the same subjects. The results demonstrate a significant reduction of TGF-beta1 levels in plasma of AD patients. A complex between alpha2M and TGF-beta1 occurred in AD as well as healthy elderly control subjects, however, with no significant differences. Moreover, alpha2M appeared to bind only the inactive form of this cytokine. In contrast, NOS activity increased significantly in leukocytes of AD patients. Therefore, we suggest the combined determination of TGF-beta1 in the plasma and of NOS activity in the leukocytes as biomarkers of AD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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