Signs of Dementia Are Written in the Blood: 33 Metabolic Compounds May Be Key to New Treatments

Posted on

By Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University
November 1, 2021

Head Blood Brain Artist's Concept

33 metabolic compounds linked to dementia could be key to new methods of diagnosis and treatment.

  • Researchers have identified 33 metabolic compounds that are linked to dementia
  • Seven metabolites were found at higher levels in patients with dementia, compared to healthy elderly people
  • These metabolites are believed to be toxic to neurons and could hint at a possible cause for dementia
  • 26 metabolites were found at lower levels in patients with dementia, compared to elderly people with no health conditions
  • These metabolites are believed to protect neurons against damage from free radicals, help maintain energy reserves and provide nutrition
  • Supplements that raise the levels of these metabolites could be a potential new treatment for dementia

Scientists in Japan have identified metabolic compounds within the blood that are associated with dementia.

The study revealed that the levels of 33 metabolites differed in patients with dementia, compared to elderly people with no existing health conditions. Their findings, published recently in PNAS, could one day aid diagnosis and treatment of dementia.

“Metabolites are chemical substances produced by vital chemical reactions that occur within cells and tissues,” said first author Dr. Takayuki Teruya, who works in the G0 Cell Unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST). “Our body normally keeps these levels in balance, but as we age and if we develop diseases like dementia, these levels can fluctuate and change.”

Dementia is not just a single disease, but a general term used to describe a set of symptoms, including a slow but typically irreversible decline in the ability to remember, think, make decisions or perform day-to-day activities. Of all aging-associated diseases, dementia is one of the most serious, not only for the patients and their family but for society as a whole, with an estimated 55 million people living with the disease worldwide.

Metabolite Levels in Dementia Patients

A heat-map, where red shows high levels of a compound, and blue shows low levels of a compound, reveals the link between certain metabolites and dementia. Compounds in sub-group A were typically higher in dementia patients and lower in healthy elderly people. Compounds in sub-group B-E showed the opposite effect. Credit: OIST

While scientists know that dementia is caused by damage to nerves, the exact cause of this damage, and methods as to how it can be detected and treated have remained elusive.

In the study, the research team analyzed samples of blood collected from eight patients with dementia, as well as eight healthy elderly people. They also collected samples from eight healthy young people to use as a reference. Unlike most studies analyzing blood metabolites, this research included compounds found within red blood cells.

“Blood cells are difficult to handle because they undergo metabolic changes if left untreated even for a short period of time,” explained Dr. Teruya.

However, the research team recently developed a way to stabilize metabolites in red blood cells, allowing them to examine for the first time the relationship between red blood cell activity and dementia.

The scientists measured the levels of 124 different metabolites in whole blood and found that 33 metabolites, split into 5 different sub-groups, correlated with dementia. Seven of these compounds increased in dementia patients, whilst 26 of these compounds showed a decrease in levels. 20, including nine that were abundant in red blood cells, of these compounds had not previously been linked to dementia.

“Identification of these compounds means that we are one step closer to being able to molecularly diagnose dementia,” said senior author of the study, Professor Mitsuhiro Yanagida, who leads the G0 Cell Unit at OIST.

The seven metabolites that showed increased levels in patients with dementia were found within the blood DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2022857118

The research was conducted by the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, along with the National Ryukyu Hospital, Okinawa and Kyoto University.

Read More

Vincenzo
Gravatar Image
Hello, Welcome to Our Blog This blog contain All About Technology, I am A Techno Freak. and i'm experience in techno since 2010. i hope you enjoy at our website

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *