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Published on: January 14, 2015
by Jo Carlowe for OnMedica:
Molecules formed from cholesterol and found in the blood could be linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease according to new research.
The study from King’s College London published in Translational Psychiatry, could lead to new targets for future drugs treatments of Alzheimer’s disease.
The study, funded by Alzheimer’s Society, looked at fatty molecules in blood samples from 124 individuals including 36 with Alzheimer’s disease and 48 with Mild Cognitive Impairment.
The researchers identified 10 molecules whose levels in the blood predicted Alzheimer’s with an accuracy of 79%. Six of the ten molecules identified were by-products formed from the breakdown of cholesterol in the body, though the researchers found no overall correlation between cholesterol in blood and Alzheimer’s disease.
These molecules have not been linked to Alzheimer’s disease before, and this discovery highlights the potentially important role of how the body processes cholesterol. This insight could lead to new targets for future drug treatments of Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer’s Society said: “Finding a way to detect Alzheimer’s before the disease takes hold would provide a huge step forward in the way we carry out research into the condition. This interesting study identifies a number of molecules connected to cholesterol which weren’t previously thought to be linked to Alzheimer’s and could be another piece in the jigsaw of helping us understand the condition.”
He said the finding could open up new avenues to find treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, but noted that the link between the molecules and dementia is not accurate enough to be used as a test.
Dr Petroula Proitsi, Alzheimer’s Society Research Fellow at the Department of Basic and Clinical Neuroscience at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, and lead author of the study said: “The results of this study are very interesting as the identified metabolites are biochemically related to metabolites previously shown to be associated with Alzheimer’s. It will be very interesting to see whether changes in these metabolites are also associated with disease initiation and progression.
“However, we would like to stress that these findings need to be expanded and replicated in larger cohorts. The false positive rate of 23.1% would mean that using these molecules for diagnosis would see nearly a quarter of healthy people wrongly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. This highlights that these molecules cannot be used for diagnostic purposes and that the important message from this study is the identification of new interesting lipid molecules to be associated with Alzheimer’s disease.”
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