Differential diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease using spectrochemical analysis of blood

Maria Paraskevaidi, Camilo L.M. Morais, Kássio M.G. Lima, Julie S. Snowden, Jennifer A. Saxon, Anna M.T. Richardson, Matthew Jones, David M.A. Mann, David Allsop, Pierre L. Martin-Hirsch, Francis L. Martin

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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 e4 genotype (APOE e4) information, increased to 86% when individuals carried one or two alleles of e4, and to 72% sensitivity and 77% specificity when individuals did not carry e4 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E7929-E7938
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number38
Early online date5 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Apolipoprotein E
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies
  • Differential diagnosis
  • Spectroscopy


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