Establishment of a consensus protocol to explore the brain pathobiome in patients with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease: Research outline and call for collaboration

Alzheimers Dement. 2023 Nov;19(11):5209-5231. doi: 10.1002/alz.13076. Epub 2023 Jun 7.


Microbial infections of the brain can lead to dementia, and for many decades microbial infections have been implicated in Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology. However, a causal role for infection in AD remains contentious, and the lack of standardized detection methodologies has led to inconsistent detection/identification of microbes in AD brains. There is a need for a consensus methodology; the Alzheimer's Pathobiome Initiative aims to perform comparative molecular analyses of microbes in post mortem brains versus cerebrospinal fluid, blood, olfactory neuroepithelium, oral/nasopharyngeal tissue, bronchoalveolar, urinary, and gut/stool samples. Diverse extraction methodologies, polymerase chain reaction and sequencing techniques, and bioinformatic tools will be evaluated, in addition to direct microbial culture and metabolomic techniques. The goal is to provide a roadmap for detecting infectious agents in patients with mild cognitive impairment or AD. Positive findings would then prompt tailoring of antimicrobial treatments that might attenuate or remit mounting clinical deficits in a subset of patients.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; antimicrobial; antiviral; bioinformatics; blood; cerebrospinal fluid; collaboration; dementia; diagnosis; methodology; microbiome; mild cognitive impairment; olfactory neuroepithelium; pathobiome; polymerase chain reaction; protocol; sequencing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / pathology
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / pathology
  • Consensus
  • Humans