New biomarker for vascular dementia according to new multicentric study

Written by Alex Hyde, Future Science Group

A large multicentric study has identified a new biomarker that could be used in the differential diagnosis of vascular dementia. The study, reported in Nature Communications, describes the potential of cerebrospinal fluid lipocalin 2 (LCN2) – a secreted glycoprotein – to be used as a biomarker to discriminate vascular dementia from Alzheimer’s disease with high accuracy.

After Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia is one of the most common forms of dementia. Current diagnostic techniques, namely neuroimaging and symptomatic diagnosis, are limited by suboptimal accuracy which can lead to confusion with other neurodegenerative diseases.

The study, led by Franc Llorens (Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute, Barcelona, Spain) and Inga Zerr (University Medical center of Göttingen, Germany), utilized patient samples from four European centers: Sahlgrenska University Hospital (Mölndal, Sweden), the University of Coimbra (Portugal), University Paris Diderot (France) and the University Medical center of Göttingen. The team originally investigated two independent cohorts and successfully validated their findings through multi-national European cooperation with a final total of n = 472 samples.

The results of the study demonstrated unequivocally higher levels of LCN2 in the cerebrospinal fluid of individuals affected by vascular dementia. Additionally, LCN2 was only found at elevated levels in the cerebrospinal fluid of those affected by vascular dementia and not in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or those with cerebral vascular damage without dementia.

To investigate the role of LCN2 in patients with vascular dementias, brain tissue samples from the biobank of Bellvitge University Hospital (Barcelona, Spain), Catalan Institute of Oncology (Barcelona, Spain) and the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute were analyzed. Studies revealed that LCN2 is expressed by glial cells, with different expression patterns in vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s.

The reproducibility of the study results and the high diagnostic specificity make LCN2 a promising candidate for the differential diagnosis of vascular dementia and neurodegenerative dementias.

Source: LLorens F, Hermann P, Villar-Piqué A et al. Cerebrospinal fluid lipocalin 2 as a novel biomarker for the differential diagnosis of vascular dementiaNat. Commun. doi:10.1038/s41467-020-14373-2 (2020)(Epub ahead of print);