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What is Alzheimer's disease? 

Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia. Its symptoms vary but may start with mild memory loss or difficulty remembering words or names. As it progresses, Alzheimer's causes worsening confusion and memory loss, changes in personality, the inability to perform everyday tasks and more. 

Alzheimer's is caused by a slow build-up of protein plaques and tangles in the brain that eventually cause brain cells to stop working properly. This build-up usually starts years before a person experiences symptoms. Alzheimer's-related memory loss is caused by brain cells working improperly and dying-a process known as neurodegeneration.

Diagnosing Alzheimer's 

Until recently, it has been difficult to identify the biological changes that indicate Alzheimer's. The typical evaluation, which includes physical exam, blood and urine tests and cognitive testing may provide ambiguous or conflicting answers, which can result in delayed referrals until symptoms become clearer. That has changed with new technology and testing. Labcorp has developed a new test called the ATN Profile to help doctors detect evidence of biological changes consistent with Alzheimer's. These tests are the first objective tools that doctors have to help evaluate Alzheimer's, meaning that with a simple blood test, your provider can get a clearer answers on Alzheimer's and its progression and get patients on a care plan earlier.

Labcorp's ATN Profile 

Labcorp is the first to offer the ATN Profile for doctors to order. "ATN" is a classification system established by the Alzheimer's research community that groups various biomarkers for Alzheimer's into three categories that look for evidence of biological changes. A profile is a test that looks at multiple biomarkers at the same time.

  • 'A' represents amyloid, and categorizes tests associated with detecting amyloid plaques, which are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. 
  • 'T' represents tau, and categorizes tests associated with detecting tau tangles, which is a second hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. 
  • 'N' represents neurodegeneration, and categorizes tests associated with determining whether a patient's brain cells are dying. Unlike 'A' and 'T' markers, 'N' markers determine disease severity. 

By looking at all three of these biomarkers together, Labcorp's ATN Profile provides you and your doctor clear and measurable insight into Alzheimer's-related changes in the body.

How to get the ATN Profile 

Labcorp is the only lab that offers this test and it must be ordered through a provider. If you or a loved one has had a clinical assessment for dementia and a healthcare provider has determined additional testing/assessments are needed, the ATN Profile may be right for you. The results from the test can help accelerate the path to diagnosis, giving you or your loved one access to earlier treatment and more time to make important decisions. Ask the provider about Labcorp's ATN Profile to learn if it's right for you.

What Do My ATN Profile Results Mean?

Blood testing for Alzheimer's disease and other dementias is not yet a perfect science. These tests are available to help your doctor determine if follow-up testing is necessary.

Follow-up testing is intended to confirm a diagnosis, so be careful not to make assumptions or plans based on the results of the ATN Profile. These follow-up tests are much more invasive and expensive, which is why the blood-based ATN Profile is a viable first option to assess whether biological changes associated with dementia and Alzheimer's are present.

In general, dementia and Alzheimer's testing is complicated; be sure to have thorough conversations with your doctors about all your results.