Changes in people with respect to cognitive function outperformed biomarkers for predicting conversion from mild impairment to Alzheimer's disease as per a retrospective review of medical records.

Researchers from the Benito Menni Complex Assistencial en Salut Mental, Barcelona, Spain, reported in Archives of General Psychiatry that changes in cerebrospinal fluid levels of some proteins or alterations in brain volume are examples of biomarkers that have helped researchers better understand how Alzheimer's disease develops and progresses. In addition, these biomarkers have helped them in determining whether treatments are effective. Comprehensive reviews have supported the potential of biomarkers to determine the likelihood of conversion to Alzheimer's disease.

Cognitive changes, demographic variables and genetic risk factors - known as behavioral markers, are also linked to Alzheimer's disease.

There are studies that have demonstrated the potential of cognitive markers to predict conversion.

At the same time, few studies have combined the various types of conversion markers with individual risk factors for Alzheimer's disease, a data deficit the authors sought to address.

The study has collected data from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative database. This has included 116 patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment that went on to develop Alzheimer's disease within 24 months, 204 with MCI who did not develop Alzheimer's, and 197 healthy controls.

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is in the middle of the normal cognitive decline that comes with normal aging. The individual with MCI has problems with thinking, judgment, language and memory, to a greater extent than would be typical at his age. However, the individual is still able to go about daily life and perform usual activities.

The study has shown that changes in functional activity scores seemed to show a greater rate of decline in the participants than changes in biomarkers.

Addressing the potential limitations of this study, the authors noted that one might argue that the use of cognitive markers in this context is a tautology because they are used in the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease itself.

On the other hand, utilizing cognitive markers have presented certain advantages to the study. A clear and significant effect on odds ratios, objectivity in scoring, comparative economy in terms of expense and time, and reliability was possible, the authors stated.