Source: Wang T, et al. J Clin Psychiatry 2015;76:135-141.

Messenger RNA (mRNA) markers are used for identification of a variety of pathologic processes, most recently including malignant melanoma. Although the labels “BACE1” and “miRAN107” likely hold little meaning for most clinicians, investigators have found that diminished levels of these particular biomarkers may help identify persons with cognitive impairment, specifically in Alzheimer’s disease.

The low levels of such biomarkers in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) as a correlate of dementia — as well as identification of their diminution being associated with tissue deposition of amyloid — strengthens the case considering their etiologic role in dementing disorders. Because of the relative inaccessibility of CSF, however, it is fortunate that biomarker plasma levels of BACE1 and miRAN107 reflect CSF levels.

In a study of elderly patients with either Alzheimer’s disease (n = 97), mild cognitive impairment (n = 116), or normal cognitive function (n = 81), investigators identified a nearly four-fold lower plasma level of BACE1 and miRAN107 in mild cognitive impairment (as well as Alzheimer’s disease) compared to healthy controls. The authors are hopeful that these biomarkers may ultimately help us identify mild cognitive impairment early, as well as discriminate Alzheimer’s disease from other forms of dementia.