A blood-based biomarker to complement the clinical and neuropsychological assessments used to evaluate the risk of individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) would be invaluable. Previous pilot studies by our group identified elevated platelet membrane β-secretase activity in patients with AD and MCI, as compared to controls, and this activity was influenced by membrane cholesterol levels. The present study investigated baseline platelet membrane β-secretase activity and cholesterol levels in 97 MCI participants and 85 controls and explored whether these parameters differed in individuals with stable MCI, as compared to those who subsequently developed AD. To evaluate signal specificity, β-secretase activity assays were conducted in the presence and absence of beta-site amyloid-β protein precursor-cleaving enzyme (BACE) inhibitors. Baseline platelet membrane β-secretase activity did not differ significantly in MCI participants, as compared to controls, and platelet membrane cholesterol levels were significantly lower in the MCI group. The longitudinal study indicated that the activities inhibited by two different BACE inhibitors did not predict conversion to AD; however, the activity that was not affected by BACE inhibitors was significantly (40%) higher in individuals with stable MCI, as compared with those who subsequently developed AD. These findings indicated that further research into the source of this activity could contribute to a measure facilitating prediction of the risk of conversion from MCI to AD.
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- School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences - Clinical Professor
- Centre for Public Health