Blood-based biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease

EMBO Mol Med. 2022 Jan 11;14(1):e14408. doi: 10.15252/emmm.202114408. Epub 2021 Dec 3.


Neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) represent a mounting public health challenge. As these diseases are difficult to diagnose clinically, biomarkers of underlying pathophysiology are playing an ever-increasing role in research, clinical trials, and in the clinical work-up of patients. Though cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and positron emission tomography (PET)-based measures are available, their use is not widespread due to limitations, including high costs and perceived invasiveness. As a result of rapid advances in the development of ultra-sensitive assays, the levels of pathological brain- and AD-related proteins can now be measured in blood, with recent work showing promising results. Plasma P-tau appears to be the best candidate marker during symptomatic AD (i.e., prodromal AD and AD dementia) and preclinical AD when combined with Aβ42/Aβ40. Though not AD-specific, blood NfL appears promising for the detection of neurodegeneration and could potentially be used to detect the effects of disease-modifying therapies. This review provides an overview of the progress achieved thus far using AD blood-based biomarkers, highlighting key areas of application and unmet challenges.

Keywords: Alzheimer; Aβ; P-tau; biomarkers; blood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / metabolism
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Biomarkers
  • Humans
  • Peptide Fragments / metabolism
  • tau Proteins / metabolism


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Biomarkers
  • Peptide Fragments
  • tau Proteins