A Metabolomics Analysis of a Novel Phenotype of Older Adults at Higher Risk of Dementia

J Alzheimers Dis. 2023 Sep 28. doi: 10.3233/JAD-230683. Online ahead of print.


Background: Older adults presenting with dual-decline in cognition and walking speed face a 6-fold higher risk for dementia compared with those showing no decline. We hypothesized that the metabolomics profile of dual-decliners would be unique even before they show signs of decline in cognition and gait speed.

Objective: The objective of this study was to determine if plasma metabolomics signatures can discriminate dual-decliners from no decliners, purely cognitive decliners, and purely motor decliners prior to decline.

Methods: A retrospective cross-sectional study using baseline plasma for untargeted metabolomics analyses to investigate early signals of later dual-decline status in study participants (n = 76) with convenient sampling. Dual-decline was operationalized as decline in gait speed (>10 cm/s) and cognition (>2 points decline in Montreal Cognitive Assessment score) on at least two consecutive 6-monthly assessments. The participants' decliner status was evaluated 3 years after the blood sample was collected. Pair-wise comparison of detected compounds was completed using principal components and hierarchical clustering analyses.

Results: Analyses did not detect any cluster separation in untargeted metabolomes across baseline groups. However, follow-up analyses of specific molecules detected 4 compounds (17-Hydroxy-12-(hydroxymethyl)-10-oxo-8 oxapentacyclomethyl hexopyranoside, Fleroxacin, Oleic acid, and 5xi-11,12-Dihydroxyabieta-8(14),9(11),12-trien-20-oic acid) were at significantly higher concentration among the dual-decliners compared to non-decliners. The pure cognitive decliner group had significantly lower concentration of six compounds (1,3-nonanediol acetate, 4-(2-carboxyethyl)-2-methoxyphenyl beta-D-glucopyranosiduronic acid, oleic acid, 2E-3-[4-(sulfo-oxy)phenyl] acrylic acid, palmitelaidic acid, and myristoleic acid) compared to the non-decliner group.

Conclusions: The unique metabolomics profile of dual-decliners warrants follow-up metabolomics analysis. Results may point to modifiable pathways.

Keywords: Aging; Alzheimer’s disease; cognition; diagnosis; gait; metabolomics.