Cracking the Code of Alzheimer’s: Video lay summary

Medicine and Health Sciences: Neuroscience

A groundbreaking study has revealed an important breakthrough in understanding Alzheimer’s disease and its progression. This study holds great significance due to the lack of effective treatments available for this condition.

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by cognitive impairment, where individuals struggle with memory, learning, concentration, and decision-making. Those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s compared to healthy individuals.

Biomarkers are substances found in blood or tissues that indicate normal or abnormal processes, or the presence of a disease. They can be used to predict the likelihood of developing certain conditions, including Alzheimer’s. Blood-based biomarkers have shown promise in predicting cognitive decline.

The hippocampus, a brain structure vital for memory function, is known to be affected by changes in the body’s circulatory blood system. One intriguing process in the brain is hippocampal neurogenesis, where new brain cells (neurons) are continuously generated throughout life. This process is influenced by various factors, including lifestyle choices like exercise and diet. Studies have shown that increased hippocampal neurogenesis is associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. However, more research is needed to fully understand the changes in hippocampal neurogenesis over time.

In this study conducted at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, researchers collected blood samples from individuals initially diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment to obtain serum for their analyses. (Serum is the fluid portion of the blood, it does not contain white blood cells, red blood cells, or platelets.) Out of the 56 participants, 36 later developed dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease, while 18 remained cognitively stable. The researchers analyzed the blood serum samples and observed differences between the converters (those who progressed to Alzheimer’s) and non-converters. It was noteworthy that the converters had fewer years of education and lower scores on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), a commonly used test for assessing cognitive function.

Through various statistical regression analyses, the researchers discovered that baseline data from the assay could predict the progression from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease up to 3.5 years before an official diagnosis. They also found that certain substances in the blood serum were associated with increased neurogenesis, suggesting a potential compensatory mechanism against aging or neurodegenerative conditions. However, this mechanism may not be sufficient to prevent cognitive decline entirely.

This study suggests that blood serum samples from individuals with mild cognitive impairment who later develop Alzheimer’s could provide valuable information for predicting disease progression. It also highlights the potential role of education attainment as a proxy for lifestyle, influencing factors such as occupation, socioeconomic status, and exposure to Alzheimer’s risk factors throughout life. However, it’s important to note that this study did not directly examine other lifestyle factors that could further enhance the prediction of neurogenesis changes.

Further research is needed to explore how the proteins in the blood serum affect hippocampal neurogenesis and the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Understanding these mechanisms will deepen our knowledge of the earliest stages of the disease and potentially lead to advancements in diagnosis and treatment methods.

In conclusion, this study funded by funded by the John and Lucille van Geest Foundation, the Medical Research Council UK, the Cohen Charitable Trust, the Galen and Hilary Weston Foundation and the Rhodes Trust offers promising insights into predicting the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, providing hope for early detection and intervention.


Title of lay summary Cracking the Code of Alzheimer’s: Video lay summary
Lay Summary Author(s)

Ana Marques

Dr Anja Harrison

Vetting Professional Dr Anja Harrison
Vetting Professional Affiliation(s) / participating organisation(s) The Collaborative Library
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forecasting progression



developing understanding for future treatment

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What is the licence for your lay summary? Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) (for all other options selected above)
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Title of the original peer-reviewed published article: Predicting progression to Alzheimer’s disease with human hippocampal progenitors exposed to serum
Journal Name: Brain
Page numbers (if applicable): 1-14
Year of publication: 2023

Aleksandra Maruszak

Edina Silajdžić

Hyunah Lee

Tytus Murphy

Benjamine Liu

Liu Shi

Chiara de Lucia

Abdel Douiri

Evgenia Salta

Alejo J. Nevado

Charlotte E. Teunissen

Pieter J. Visser

Jack Price

Henrik Zetterberg

Simon Lovestone

Sandrine Thuret

Contributors and funders:

Part of the work presented here is subject to a patent application GB1616691.0 with A.M., T.M., J.P., S.L. and S.T. listed as inventors. J.P. is a consultant at ReNeuron. B.L. is CEO and co-founder of Trialspark. S.L. is currently an employee of Janssen-Cilag. In the past 3 years he has provided consultancy to Eisai, SomaLogic and Merck and is a co-founder and director at CRISTAL Health. H.Z. has served at scientific advisory boards for Eisai, Denali, Roche Diagnostics, Wave, Samumed, Siemens Healthineers, Pinteon Therapeutics, Nervgen, AZTherapies and CogRx, has given lectures in symposia sponsored by Cellectricon, Fujirebio, Alzecure and Biogen, and is a cofounder of Brain Biomarker Solutions in Gothenburg AB (BBS), which is a part of the GU Ventures Incubator Program (outside submitted work). The other authors de- clare no competing interests.

Original Article language: English
Article Type: Prospective cohort study
What licence permission does the original e-print have? For more information on this please see our permissions video): Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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