Quality CareFind out why Mayo Clinic is the right place for your health care. Make an appointment.
Meet the StaffFind a directory of doctors and departments at all Mayo Clinic campuses. Visit now.
Research and Clinical TrialsSee how Mayo Clinic research and clinical trials advance the science of medicine and improve patient care. Explore now.
Visit Our SchoolsEducators at Mayo Clinic train tomorrow’s leaders to deliver compassionate, high-value, safe patient care. Choose a degree.
Professional ServicesExplore Mayo Clinic's many resources and see jobs available for medical professionals. Get updates.
Philanthropy at Mayo ClinicYour support accelerates powerful innovations in patient care, research and education. Give today.
Mayo Clinic offers appointments in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota and at Mayo Clinic Health System locations.
Subscribe to Housecall
Our general interest e-newsletter keeps you up to date on a wide variety of health topics.
Developing a treatment plan for any disease requires a clear diagnosis. New Alzheimer's tests might help with early detection of some aspects of the disease.
Research is ongoing to develop new tests and determine who might benefit from them. More testing is needed before they can become widely available.
Biomarker test. A biomarker is something that can be measured to indicate the presence of a disease. Two proteins, beta-amyloid and tau, which are found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's can be measured in the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord (cerebrospinal fluid).
The fluid is examined for evidence of abnormal development of beta-amyloid proteins, which form plaques, and tau proteins, which form tangles. Both plaques and tangles are thought to contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease.
These proteins can distinguish Alzheimer's disease from other causes of dementia and may help identify people with the disease process before they have significant mental decline. They can support a diagnosis of Alzheimer's, but are not yet used routinely for diagnosis.
Brain imaging (neuroimaging). Researchers are studying imaging techniques, such as MRI and positron emission tomography (PET) scans, used with radiotracers.
Radiotracers are charged particles that "light up" Alzheimer's-affected areas in images of the brain — for example, by attaching to proteins, amyloid and tau, associated with Alzheimer's disease. However, having amyloid plaques in the brain doesn't mean you have dementia. More study is needed.
Early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease is an important goal. Early intervention with medications might slow disease progression and provide an opportunity to plan for the future.
Jonathan Graff-Radford, M.D.
Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products. Advertising revenue supports our not-for-profit mission.
Check out these best-sellers and special offers on books and newsletters from Mayo Clinic.
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization and proceeds from Web advertising help support our mission. Mayo Clinic does not endorse any of the third party products and services advertised.
A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.org," "Mayo Clinic Healthy Living," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.