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Urine test predicts Alzheimer's disease

(Philadelphia, PA) A urine sample taken at the doctor's office can be the step in determining your chances of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD), according to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. They have determined that a urine test can reliably detect free radical damage associated with people with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) a recognized precursor to AD. The test detects isoprostanes, fatty acids that are formed as the result of free radical damage in the brain damage that correlates with clinical diagnosis of AD.

"This is the first noninvasive test that can predict a clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease," said Domenico Pratic, MD, assistant professor in Penn's Department of Pharmacology. "Since there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, physicians could slow the course of the disease if it is caught early enough."

Within four years of initial diagnosis, up to 50% of people with MCI develop Alzheimer's disease. As AD progresses, it attacks the brain and causes severe damage in the areas important for memory, judgement, and language. This destruction leads to other clinical complications and, eventually, death.

In the study, published in the June edition of Archives of Neurology, Pratic and his colleagues measured isoprostane in blood and urine samples obtained from 50 patients with a clinical diagnosis of AD, 33 patients with MCI, and 40 healthy volunteers. Two weeks later, a CSF sample and a second urine sample were taken from 28 of the AD patients, 17 of the MCI patients, and 18 of the control subjects. The researchers found significantly higher levels of isoprostane in CSF, blood, and urine of MCI and AD subjects than in the volunteers. Remarkably, the samples taken from the MCI subjects and the volunteers differed only in respect to their isoprostane levels.

"We found that patients with MCI have increased brain oxidative damage before the onset of AD damage that can be detected in the
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Contact: Greg Lester
lesterg@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5658
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
13-Jun-2002


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