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Could Saliva Hold Clue to Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Could Saliva Hold Clue to Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease?

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  • In Alzheimer's disease, treatments that offer only modest benefits are usually initiated only after a patient is diagnosed.
  • Reliable diagnostic tests for this disease are few in number and the development of such valid and reliable biomarkers are important for designing prevention and early-intervention.
  • A simple noninvasive test, that uses small molecules in the saliva called metabolites, helps to identify those at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Small molecules present in the saliva, may help to identify those at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

The findings are by a team of researchers from the Beaumont Research Institute, part of Beaumont Health in Michigan.

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative, neurological condition that is fast reaching epic proportions.


Could Saliva Hold Clue to Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease?

It is a progressive disorder that affects a person's cognitive skills including memory, thinking, reasoning, communication and attention. It affects the individual's relationship, independence and lifestyle.

It affects people who are in their mid-60's and it is the main cause of dementia among older individuals. Around 60%-80% of dementia cases can be attributed to Alzheimer's.

Dementia causes loss of memory, thinking, remembering, and reasoning. It interferes with a person's daily life and activities.

In America, around 5 million people have Alzheimer's disease and around 200,000 cases have been detected in people below 65 years of age. It is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States of America.

The number of people affected with Alzheimer's in the U.S. is increasing dramatically and in 2017, the total health care costs due to this condition are estimated at $259 billion. By 2050 around 15-16 million people are predicted to be affected by this condition.

Currently, the condition has no cure and has very few reliable diagnostic tests.

Researchers are on a quest to develop valid and reliable biomarkers that will help diagnose the disease in its earliest stages before brain damage occurs and dementia sets in.

Recent findings state that salivary molecules could be promising and reliable diagnostic biomarkers.


The study included 29 participants who were categorized into three groups.

One group had mild cognitive impairment, the second group had Alzheimer's disease and the third group served as the control group.

The research team then collected the salivary specimens and positively identified and accurately quantified 57 metabolites.

They were able to observe significant variances in the biomarkers.

This data helped them to predict those at high risk of developing Alzheimer's.

"We used metabolomics, a newer technique to study molecules involved in metabolism. Our goal was to find unique patterns of molecules in the saliva of our study participants that could be used to diagnose Alzheimer's disease in the earliest stages, when treatment is considered most effective. Presently, therapies for Alzheimer's are initiated only after a patient is diagnosed and treatments offer modest benefits." said Researcher Stewart Graham, Ph.D

Metabolomics helps to measure large numbers of naturally occurring small molecules, called metabolites, present in the blood, saliva and tissues.

"Our team's study demonstrates the potential for using metabolomics and saliva for the early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease," explained Dr. Graham. "Given the ease and convenience of collecting saliva, the development of accurate and sensitive biomarkers would be ideal for screening those at greatest risk of developing Alzheimer's. In fact, unlike blood or cerebrospinal fluid, saliva is one of the most noninvasive means of getting cellular samples and it's also inexpensive."

Said Dr. Graham, "Worldwide, the development of valid and reliable biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease is considered the No. 1 priority for most national dementia strategies. It's a necessary first step to design prevention and early-intervention research studies."

The study titled "Diagnostic Biomarkers of Alzheimer's Disease as Identified in Saliva using 1H NMR-Based Metabolomics" is published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

  1. Alzheimer's Disease Fact Sheet - (https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet)
  2. What Is Alzheimer's? - (http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp)
  3. Stewart Graham et al. Diagnostic Biomarkers of Alzheimer's Disease as Identified in Saliva using 1H NMR-Based Metabolomics. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease; (2017) DOI: 10.3233/JAD-161226

Source: Medindia

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