Research Highlight

Biomarker for Alzheimer's Disease

doi:10.1038/nindia.2015.61 Published online 8 May 2015

Imaging the brain, researchers have shown that depleted levels of a major antioxidant glutathione might offer the first signals of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), an early stage of Alzheimer's Disease (AD)1.

In animal models and postmortem studies on Alzheimer's patients, reports have shown significantly depleted brain glutathione levels. However, direct clinical evidence for this has been lacking.

The researchers, studying live ageing people for the first time, now report that if the left (hippocampal) region of the brain has depleted glutathione level, it may result in MCI. 

Through proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy, the researchers from National Brain Research Centre and All India Institute of Medical Sciences investigated glutathione modulation in the brain. They assessed its diagnostic potential in hippocampi and frontal cortices as a biomarker for AD and MCI.

The researchers found a direct relation between depleted levels of glutathione in the brain regions with decline in cognitive functions. They say that the study provides compelling in vivo evidence that estimating glutathione levels in specific brain regions could be a clinically relevant noninvasive biomarker for MCI and AD.


1. Mandal, P. K. et al. Brain glutathione levels – a novel biomarker for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease. Biol. Psychiatry. (2015) doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.04.005