Cerebrospinal fluid analysis in Alzheimer’s disease: technical issues and future developments
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Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a leading cause of morbidity, mortality, and a major epidemic worldwide. Although clinical assessment continues to remain the keystone for patient management and clinical trials, such evaluation has important limitations. In this context, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers are important tools to better identify high-risk individuals, to diagnose AD promptly and accurately, especially at the prodromal mild cognitive impairment stage of the disease, and to effectively prognosticate and treat AD patients. Recent advances in functional genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and bioinformatics will hopefully revolutionize unbiased inquiries into several putative CSF markers of cerebral pathology that may be concisely informative with regard to the various stages of AD progression through years and decades. Moreover, the identification of efficient drug targets and development of optimal therapeutic strategies for AD will increasingly rely on a better understanding and integration of the systems biology paradigm, which will allow predicting the series of events and resulting responses of the biological network triggered by the introduction of new therapeutic compounds. In this scenario, unbiased systems biology-based diagnostic and prognostic models in AD will consist of relevant comprehensive panels of molecules and key branches of the disease-affected cellular neuronal network. Such characteristic and unbiased biomarkers will more accurately and comprehensively reflect pathophysiology from the early asymptomatic and presymptomatic to the final prodromal and symptomatic clinical stages in individual patients (and their individual genetic disease predisposition), ultimately increasing the chances of success of future disease modifying and preventive treatments.