Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive degenerative disorder of the brain and is the most common form of
dementia. To-date no simple, inexpensive and minimally invasive procedure is available to confirm with certainty the
early diagnosis of AD prior to the manifestations of symptoms characteristic of the disease. Therefore, if population
screening of individuals is to be performed, more suitable, easily accessible tissues would need to be used for a diagnostic
test that would identify those who exhibit cellular pathology indicative of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and AD risk
so that they can be prioritized for primary prevention. This need for minimally invasive tests could be achieved by targeting
surrogate tissues, since it is now well recognized that AD is not only a disorder restricted to pathology and biomarkers
within the brain. Human buccal cells for instance are accessible in a minimally invasive manner, and exhibit cytological
and nuclear morphologies that may be indicative of accelerated ageing or neurodegenerative disorders such as AD. However,
to our knowledge there is no review available in the literature covering the biology of buccal cells and their applications
in AD biomarker research. Therefore, the aim of this review is to summarize some of the main findings of biomarkers
reported for AD in peripheral tissues, with a further focus on the rationale for the use of the buccal mucosa (BM) for
biomarkers of AD and the evidence to date of changes exhibited in buccal cells with AD.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease, buccal mucosa, diagnosis, mild cognitive impairment, peripheral biomarkers.
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