White Blood Cell and Platelet Counts Are Not Suitable as Biomarkers in the Differential Diagnostics of Dementia.

Schröder S, Heck J, Groh A, Frieling H, Bleich S, Kahl KG, Bosch JJ, Krichevsky B, Schulze-Westhoff M

Apart from Alzheimer's disease (AD), no biomarkers for the differential diagnosis of dementia have been established to date. Inflammatory processes contribute to the pathogenesis of dementia subtypes, e.g., AD or frontotemporal dementia (FTD). In the context of cancer or cardiovascular diseases, white blood cell (WBC) populations and platelet counts, as well as C-reactive protein (CRP), have emerged as biomarkers. Their clinical relevance in dementia, however, is currently only insufficiently investigated. In the present study, hematological and inflammatory parameters were measured in the peripheral blood of 97 patients admitted to the gerontopsychiatric ward of Hannover Medical School, a university hospital in Germany, for dementia assessment. The study population comprised 20 non-demented, depressed patients (control group) and 77 demented patients who were assigned to five different groups based on their underlying dementia etiology: AD, = 33; vascular dementia, = 12; mixed dementia, = 21; FTD, = 5; and Korsakoff syndrome, = 6. We observed neither statistically significant differences regarding total WBC populations, platelet counts, neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio and platelet-to-lymphocyte ratio, nor CRP levels between the control group and the five dementia groups. CRP levels tended to be higher in patients with Korsakoff syndrome than in the control group and in AD patients. Thus, CRP could possibly play a role in the differential diagnosis of dementia. This should be investigated further in future prospective studies with larger sample sizes. WBC and platelet counts, by contrast, do not appear to be suitable biomarkers in the differential diagnosis of dementia.