Preoperative Serum Metabolites Are Associated With Postoperative Delirium in Elderly Hip-Fracture Patients

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2017 Nov 9;72(12):1689-1696. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glx001.


Background: Hypotheses on the development of postoperative delirium (PD) include "neuroinflammatory," "neuronal aging," "oxidative stress," "neurotransmitter deficiency," and "neuroendocrine." Here, we employed metabolomics to determine the serum metabolites in the baseline associated with an increased risk of PD.

Methods: Two hundred and nine elderly hip-fracture patients who had undergone hemiarthroplasty and had completed our assessments were selected. Fasting venous blood was collected at 7:00 on the morning of surgery and a serum sample bank was created for analysis. On the first 3 postoperative days, the patients were assessed twice daily using the Confusion Assessment Method - Chinese Revision. Ultimately, 43 patients were diagnosed with PD, who comprised the PD group. Meanwhile, 43 matched non-PD patients were selected based on age, sex, and body mass index. Serum samples from the two groups were analyzed by gas chromatography-time-of-flight mass spectrometry and Acquity ultra-performance liquid chromatography-quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry.

Results: The demographic characteristics of the groups were matched. Four metabolites associated with an increased risk of PD were identified, including S-methylcysteine, linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, and linoleic acid.

Conclusions: Multiple metabolic pathways in the PD group altered before surgery, including deficiency of ω3 and ω6 fatty acids, energy metabolism and oxidative stress with interactions between hypoxia and mitochondrial dysfunction, in addition to glutamate-glutamine cycle dysfunction. These metabolic abnormalities could possibly increase the fragility of the brain and then contribute to PD.

Keywords: Elderly patients; Hip fracture; Metabolomics; Postoperative delirium; Risk metabolites.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Delirium / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Hip Fractures / blood*
  • Hip Fractures / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolomics*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Preoperative Period