New research suggests that salivary molecules hold potential as realistic diagnostic biomarkers in a bid to tackle Alzheimer’s disease.The study carried out by investigators at the Beaumont Research Institute and published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, reveals that spit could potentially provide clues to the future of brain health.
Currently, Alzheimer’s has no cure, few reliable diagnostic tests and has the potential to reach epidemic proportions worldwide by 2050. The development of such advanced non-invasive techniques is therefore a crucial next step toward the continued progress of precision medicine initiatives.
“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 Stewart Graham, Ph.D, senior study investigator and assistant professor at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine.
During the study, 29 adults were divided into three groups including: mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, and a control group. After specimens were collected, the researchers identified and accurately quantified 57 metabolites. Predictions were later made identifying those most at risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Graham added, “Our team’s study demonstrates the potential for using metabolomics and saliva for the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. 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 non-invasive means of getting cellular samples, and it’s also inexpensive.”
The authors concluded, “We accurately identified significant concentration changes in 22 metabolites in the saliva of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease patients compared to controls. This pilot study demonstrates the potential for using metabolomics and saliva for the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.”