A Skin Test to Detect Alzheimer’s

Doctors and researchers agree that the early detection of Alzheimer‘s disease is crucial to treatment options and vitally important to slowing the progression of the disease. Now, a new study from Central Hospital at the University of San Luis Potosi in Mexico, has found that the detection of certain proteins in the skin can help detect Alzheimer‘s before symptoms occur.A Skin Test to Detect Alzheimer's

Learn more about this study and what it means for people at risk for the disease.

Early Clues to Alzheimer’s May Lie in Proteins Found in Skin

Researchers from Central Hospital at the University of San Luis Potosi in Mexico have found that a simple skin test may hold early clues to the development of Alzheimer’s. The research team, led by Dr. Ildefonso Rodriguez-Leyva, reasoned that because skin has the same origin as brain tissue, the skin may serve as a window to the health of the brain on a molecular level. They also knew that previous post-mortem studies of people with Parkinson’s showed that skin had the similar protein deposits which occurred in the brain.

To test their theory on the living, researchers took a skin biopsy from behind the ear of 65 volunteers. Of the volunteers, 12 were healthy and 53 had Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or another form of dementia. They found that the participants who had Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s had higher levels of tau and alpha-synuclein proteins in their skin. Both proteins are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, respectively.

Lead researcher Dr. Ildefonso Rodriguez-Leyva was ecstatic about the results saying:

“This skin test opens the possibility to see abnormal proteins in the skin before central nervous system symptoms — cognitive or motor deficits — appear.”

Next Steps for Use of a Skin Test to Detect Alzheimer’s

Because the study was completed on a small scale, more research is needed to confirm the findings. Nevertheless, researchers are hopeful that their findings will help drug developers create treatments that more effectively target tau and alpha synuclein proteins.

Dr. Arthur Roach, Parkinson’s UK Director of Research and Development is cautiously optimistic of the findings, stating:

” This work points to a possible diagnostic test that would be minimally invasive and could provide earlier, more accurate diagnosis. There is still a need for more innovation in this area — at the moment there’s no way to definitively diagnose Parkinson’s.”

Dr. Simon Ridley of Alzheimer’s Research UK agrees that it is too early to determine the availability of a skin test to diagnose Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Researchers will present their study in Washington, D.C. this April at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting.

Are you looking forward to more research on skin tests being used to diagnose Alzheimer’s? Or, do you think it is still too early to positively diagnose someone with dementia using a skin test? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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Please leave your thoughts and comments

  • cheryl

    I lost my mother to Alzheimers, and would be very interested to find out if I will also get it.

  • connie r

    I think early detection is key. Yes, I would like to know if I carry the geneitic predisposition for Alzheimers. My mother had Alzheimers, and died from complications after 8 yrs. She also had Glaucoma, Wet macular degeneration, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, and TIAs.

    Unfortunately, I have every single disease my mother had – so far – except Alzheimers – which she showed signs of at about age 80. I am 63. She lived to age 88. My sister does not have any of the same diseases. My sister and I are very much different in appearance and personality. I, look like my mother’s family, my brother and sister look like my father’s family.

    My father died of prostate cancer and had heart disease. My sister had uterine cancer, but caught it in time to remove it and is past the 5 yr reoocurance timeframe, but has high blood pressure. My sister is 5’10” like my 6′ 1″ father, blue eyes. I am 5’4.5″ and brown eyes like my 5’5″ brown-eyed mother. I would like to see if anyone would be interested in following these two very obvious genetic-medical histories to study and possibly find a link. I have had DNA done. My sister has not.

  • Rebecca

    I’m the daughter and caregiver of my Mom who has had Alzheimer’s Disease for 15 years. I am in a research study for medication to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease, anything that will help find out if I have it or if and when I do have it ,can delay the symptoms, I am for!!

  • Kathy M

    Yes, skin testing sounds like a good way for early detection … Full speed ahead!

  • shelby whitfield

    Yes my mom has this disease and I would love to have the skln test and I have 3 sisters i’m sure would too
    how do I go about getting it

  • Donna C

    I believe this a divine answer and say keep moving forward! I have cared for family and friends with this terrible disease! We need to find a way of prevention! At least this will help people to know and get many things in order!

  • Erica

    Given that alzheimers is likely of vascular origin, is it possible the protein detected could actually be linked to multiple vascular disorders and not indicative of a particular disorder?

  • Tina Peever

    This is great news, I’d love to be part of the research if it ever came to Ottawa, ON Canada
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  • StevenRobert

    This is a great concept and needs to be investigated further.

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