Profiling Alzheimer's Disease Biomarkers in Blood Serum

November 20, 2014
Bethany Degg
The Column
Volume 10, Issue 21

Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is one of the most common neurodenerative disorders worldwide. It is a progressive disorder characterized by gradual loss of mental ability associated with the death of brain cells, and is diagnosed using a combination of physical, neurological, and laboratory tests. Although there are no curative treatments available, early treatment can reduce the rate of the disease progression. Scientists from the University of Huelva and the Neurological Service from the Hospital Juan Ramon Jim?nez in Spain, began collaborating four years ago to develop new strategies to identify biomarkers that could be used to speed up diagnosis of the disease. In a new study published in the journal Electrophoresis, the team present a metabolomics approach based on ultrafiltration followed by capillary electrophoresis coupled with mass spectrometry (CE–ESI–MS) for the fingerprinting of polar metabolites in blood serum.

Photo Credit: ANDRZEJ WOJCICKI/Getty Images

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is one of the most common neurodenerative disorders worldwide. It is a progressive disorder characterized by gradual loss of mental ability associated with the death of brain cells, and is diagnosed using a combination of physical, neurological, and laboratory tests. Although there are no curative treatments available, early treatment can reduce the rate of the disease progression. Scientists from the University of Huelva and the Neurological Service from the Hospital Juan Ramón Jiménez in Spain, began collaborating four years ago to develop new strategies to identify biomarkers that could be used to speed up diagnosis of the disease. In a new study published in the journal Electrophoresis, the team present a metabolomics approach based on ultraf ltration followed by capillary electrophoresis coupled with mass spectrometry (CE–ESI–MS) for the fingerprinting of polar metabolites in blood serum.1

Biomarker discovery is a field that continues to attract attention because –omics technologies enable deeper investigation of changes at the cellular level that are associated with the onset of disease. Early identification of disease can improve patient outlook and allow for earlier treatment intervention. Lead author Raul González-Domínguez told The Column: “We are comparing different analytical platforms to achieve a comprehensive characterization of serum metabolome for studying metabolic changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease. In this study we selected blood serum for non-invasive metabolite screening, and we compared three study groups to monitor disease progression. Furthermore, given that pathogenesis of AD is still not completely understood, we considered that metabolomics might provide new insights into pathological mechanisms underlying this disorder.”

Blood samples were taken from 93 patients diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, or healthy controls. Serum samples were then prepared using ultrafiltration and profiled using CE–ESI–MS. Potential biomarkers were identif ed using metabolomic databases. According to González-Domínguez, the team detected significant alterations in metabolite levels that could be related to Alzheimer’s disease. He said: “We consider that the most notable finding was the identif cation of potential biomarkers not previously described to our knowledge in serum from AD, such as the peptide Phe-Phe [phenylalanyl–phenylalanine] or asymmetric dimethyl-arginine, which could be related to the implication of vascular risk factors in AD pathogenesis.” — B.D.

Reference
1. R. González-Domínguez et al., Electrophoresis DOI: 10.1002/elps.201400196 (2014).

This story originally appeared in The Column. Click here to view that issue.