New findings from the Vanderbilt Memory and Aging Project suggest sTREM2 (soluble Triggering Receptor Expressed on Myeloid Cells-2) has promise as a new biomarker of brain changes in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Biomarkers are measurable changes in the body that help determine if a person has a disease. The most well-known biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease are amyloid beta and phosphorylated tau. Scientists and clinicians can measure the levels of amyloid beta and phosphorylated tau in cerebral spinal fluid or on a brain positron emission tomography scan to help determine who has Alzheimer’s disease. Previous researchers have shown that sTREM2 levels in the cerebral spinal fluid change at the same time levels of tau change.
Under the mentorship of Dr. Timothy J. Hohman, VMAC trainee, Dr. Rebecca L. Winfree, hypothesized levels of sTREM2 in a person’s cerebral spinal fluid may be an early sign of brain changes in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Winfree studied the cerebral spinal fluid of 155 Vanderbilt Memory and Aging Project participants and found when a person had high levels of sTREM2 in the cerebral spinal fluid they also had high levels of amyloid beta and performed worse on memory and thinking activities. Dr Winfree believes sTREM2 may help scientists and clinicians better identify people at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Read the full study here.