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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Sep 19;114(38):E7929-E7938. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1701517114. Epub 2017 Sep 5.

Differential diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease using spectrochemical analysis of blood.

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School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Central Lancashire, Preston PR1 2HE, United Kingdom;
Institute of Chemistry, Biological Chemistry and Chemometrics, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Natal 59072-970, Brazil.
Cerebral Function Unit, Salford Royal Hospital, Salford M6 8HD, United Kingdom.
Division of Neuroscience and Experimental Psychology, School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, University of Manchester, Salford Royal Hospital, Salford M6 8HD, United Kingdom.
Division of Biomedical and Life Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medicine, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YQ, United Kingdom.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals National Health Service Foundation, Preston PR2 9HT, United Kingdom.


The progressive aging of the world's population makes a higher prevalence of neurodegenerative diseases inevitable. The necessity for an accurate, but at the same time, inexpensive and minimally invasive, diagnostic test is urgently required, not only to confirm the presence of the disease but also to discriminate between different types of dementia to provide the appropriate management and treatment. In this study, attenuated total reflection FTIR (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy combined with chemometric techniques were used to analyze blood plasma samples from our cohort. Blood samples are easily collected by conventional venepuncture, permitting repeated measurements from the same individuals to monitor their progression throughout the years or evaluate any tested drugs. We included 549 individuals: 347 with various neurodegenerative diseases and 202 age-matched healthy individuals. Alzheimer's disease (AD; n = 164) was identified with 70% sensitivity and specificity, which after the incorporation of apolipoprotein ε4 genotype (APOE ε4) information, increased to 86% when individuals carried one or two alleles of ε4, and to 72% sensitivity and 77% specificity when individuals did not carry ε4 alleles. Early AD cases (n = 14) were identified with 80% sensitivity and 74% specificity. Segregation of AD from dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB; n = 34) was achieved with 90% sensitivity and specificity. Other neurodegenerative diseases, such as frontotemporal dementia (FTD; n = 30), Parkinson's disease (PD; n = 32), and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP; n = 31), were included in our cohort for diagnostic purposes. Our method allows for both rapid and robust diagnosis of neurodegeneration and segregation between different dementias.


Alzheimer’s disease; apolipoprotein E; dementia with Lewy bodies; differential diagnosis; spectroscopy

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