4 November 2021

Have you seen the movie “The Father”? In this excellent film, we follow the heartbreaking story of a man, played by Anthony Hopkins,  that loses grip on his life and reality due to dementia. Anthony won an Oscar deservedly for his role. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the leading cause of dementia worldwide. The clinical diagnosis is based on a gradual decline of cognition, most commonly with an impairment in encoding and recall of recently learned information. Cerebrospinal fluid and neuroimaging biomarkers can be used to support diagnoses, and may contribute to predicting the disease progression and treatment response.

The current authors set out to research a new biomarker in cerebrospinal fluid called “neuroleukin”. In an earlier study, they found that this protein was expressed in a pathological hallmark of AD: “amyloid plaques”, and also in small blood vessels that had amyloid accumulation.  The latter phenomenon is described by the term  “cerebral amyloid angiopathy” (CAA). CAA damages the small blood vessels in the brain, which leads to cognitive decline and brain hemorrhages. 50% of the AD patients also have CAA.

The research group, led by Marcel Verbeek, from the translational metabolic lab and the department of neurology, in collaboration with the department of neurology from the University of Barcelona, published the results of this study in “Alzheimer Research and Therapy” on the 21th of September 2021. They found that cerebrospinal fluid neuroleukin was increased both in mild cognitive impairment (a prodromal stage of AD) and in AD, but not in CAA. They also found that neuroleukin may play a role in the chronic inflammation that is found in AD. The researchers conclude that neuroleukin is a marker associated with early stage AD, and that it is possibly involved in a neuroprotective response to neuronal damage caused by AD pathology. 


De Kort AM, Kuiperij HB, Alcolea D, Kersten I, Versleijen AAM, Greenberg SM, Stoops E, Schreuder FHBM, Klijn CJM, Lleó A, Claassen JAHR, Verbeek MM. Cerebrospinal fluid levels of the neurotrophic factor neuroleukin are increased in early Alzheimer's disease, but not in cerebral amyloid angiopathy. Alzheimers Res Ther. 2021 Sep 24;13(1):160. doi: 10.1186/s13195-021-00899-0.PMID: 34560885 

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