pte20211011019 Research / Development, Medicine / Wellness

Researchers identify three microRNAs that are related to mental performance

Puzzle in the head: researchers develop dementia blood test (Image: geralt, pixabay.com)

Bonn / Göttingen (pte019 / 11.10.2021 / 13: 59) – Certain molecules in the blood indicate an impending dementia. This is what researchers from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) http://dzne.de and the University Medical Center Göttingen http://umg.eu found out. Their findings are based on human and laboratory studies. According to the experts, the blood test procedure is not yet practical. Details were published in “EMBO Molecular Medicine”.

Very accurate procedure

The biomarker found is based on the measurement of microRNAs in the blood. Studies in humans, mice and cell cultures have identified three microRNAs whose concentration is related to mental performance. To do this, the researchers analyzed the data from young, cognitively inconspicuous people and older people with cognitive disorders (MCI). The data of MCI sufferers came from a study by the DZNE that has been going on for years.

Result: In healthy individuals, the concentration of microRNAs correlated with mental fitness. The lower the blood count, the better the test subjects performed in the cognition tests. In mice, on the other hand, this value increased even before the animals deteriorated mentally, whether due to age or because they developed symptoms similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease.

Further evidence came from patients with MCI: Of those in whom the blood marker was greatly increased, around 90 percent developed Alzheimer’s disease within two years. “We therefore see an increased blood level of these three microRNAs as a harbinger of dementia. We estimate that this biomarker indicates a development in humans that is around two to five years in the future,” explains DZNE research group leader André Fischer.

Inflammatory processes influenced

In their studies on mice and cell cultures, the doctors also found that the three identified microRNAs influence inflammatory processes in the brain and neuroplasticity. This suggests that the three microRNAs are more than warning signals. “In our opinion, they are not just markers, but also have an active effect on pathological processes. This makes them possible starting points for therapy,” adds Fischer.

In fact, the learning ability of mice is improved if these microRNAs are blocked by pharmaceuticals. This would have been observed both in mice with age-related mental deficits and in mice with brain damage, as occurs in a similar way in Alzheimer’s disease. The indicator found still needs to be checked further. In addition, the current measurement method is still too complex to be used in practice.

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