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Prediction of Mild Cognitive Impairment that Evolves into Alzheimer's Disease Dementia within Two Years using a Gene Expression Signature in Blood: A Pilot Study



The focus on Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is shifting from dementia to the prodromal stage of the disorder, to a large extent due to increasing efforts in trying to develop disease modifying treatment for the disorder. For development of disease-modifying drugs, a reliable and accurate test for identification of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to AD is essential.


In the present study, MCI progressing to AD will be predicted using blood-based gene expression.

Material and Methods:

Gene expression analysis using qPCR was performed on blood RNA from a cohort of patients with amnestic MCI (aMCI; n = 66). Within the aMCI cohort, patients progressing to AD within 1 to 2 years were grouped as MCI converters (n = 34) and the patients remaining at the MCI stage after 2 years were grouped as stable MCI (n = 32). AD and control populations were also included in the study.


Multivariate statistical method partial least square regression was used to develop predictive models which later were tested using leave-one-out cross validation. Gene expression signatures that identified aMCI subjects that progressed to AD within 2 years with a prediction accuracy of 74%–77% were identified for the complete dataset and subsets thereof.


The present pilot study demonstrates for the first time that MCI that evolves into AD dementia within 2 years may be predicted by analyzing gene expression in blood. Further studies will be needed to validate this gene signature as a potential test for AD in the predementia stage.