Cholesterol by-products point to new Alzheimer's discovery

From Care and cure magazine spring 2015, find out more about cholesterol and Alzheimer's disease.

A lack of certain molecules that are formed from cholesterol and found in the blood could be linked to the development of Alzheimer's disease, according to new research.

The study, funded by Alzheimer's Society and published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, looked at fatty molecules in blood samples from 124 individuals including 36 with Alzheimer's disease and 48 with mild cognitive impairment. The researchers identified 10 molecules in the samples that appeared to be reduced in people with Alzheimer's.

Six of these molecules were by-products, or metabolites, formed from the breakdown ofcholesterol in the body, though the researchers found no overall correlation between cholesterol itself and Alzheimer's.

These metabolites had not been linked to Alzheimer's disease before, and the discovery highlights the potentially important role of how the body processes cholesterol. This insight could lead to new targets for future Alzheimer's drug treatments. Dr Petroula Proitsi, Alzheimer's Society Research Fellow at King's College London and lead author of the study, said:

'The results of this study are very interesting as the identified metabolites are biochemically related to metabolites previously shown to be associated with Alzheimer's.

'It will be very interesting to see whether changes in these metabolites are also associated with disease initiation and progression. However we would like to stress that these findings need to be expanded and replicated in larger cohorts.'

Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at the Society, said:

'Finding a way to detect Alzheimer's before the disease takes hold would provide a huge step forward in the way we carry out research into the condition.

'This interesting study identifies a number of molecules connected to cholesterol which weren't previously thought to be linked to Alzheimer's and could be another piece in the jigsaw of helping us understand the condition.'

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