HealthDay News — A blood test has been developed that can predict with 90% certainty whether a senior will suffer from dementia such as Alzheimer disease within the next few years, according to a study published online March 9 in Nature Medicine.

The test relies on levels of 10 lipids in the bloodstream to estimate the chances of either mild cognitive impairment or the beginnings of Alzheimer disease.

The study involved 525 healthy people aged 70 years or older who underwent a full blood exam and a battery of neurocognitive tests. The research team then followed the participants for 5 years. During the course of the study, 74 of the people developed dementia or mild Alzheimer disease.

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Researchers compared their blood to the blood of people who showed no signs of cognitive decline. They found that people who later developed dementia started out with low levels of a series of 10 lipids, compared with the other study participants. They then performed a second study in which they tested the predictive power of the 10-lipid review on a separate group of 40 people.

The accuracy of the blood test neither improved nor diminished when researchers added a genetic test looking for a mutant version of the APOE gene that has been linked to Alzheimer disease. In fact, they found the blood test predicted dementia with better accuracy than the APOE test alone.

“The results, while intriguing, are preliminary,” Maria Carrillo, PhD, vice president of medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer’s Association, told HealthDay. “They require replication and validation by other scientists in larger and more diverse populations to give them credibility, before further development for clinical use is warranted.”


  1. Mapstone M et al. Nature Medicine. 2014; doi:10.1038/nm.3466.