Serum metabolites associated with brain amyloid beta deposition, cognition and dementia progression

Kwangsik Nho, Alexandra Kueider-Paisley, Matthias Arnold, Siamak Mahmoudiandehkordi, Shannon L. Risacher, Gregory Louie, Colette Blach, Rebecca Baillie, Xianlin Han, Gabi Kastenmüller, P. Murali Doraiswamy, Rima Kaddurah-Daouk, Andrew J. Saykin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Metabolomics in the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative cohort provides a powerful tool for mapping biochemical changes in Alzheimer's disease, and a unique opportunity to learn about the association between circulating blood metabolites and brain amyloid-β deposition in Alzheimer's disease. We examined 140 serum metabolites and their associations with brain amyloid-β deposition, cognition and conversion from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer's disease in the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. Processed [18F] Florbetapir PET images were used to perform a voxel-wise statistical analysis of the effect of metabolite levels on amyloid-β accumulation across the whole brain. We performed a multivariable regression analysis using age, sex, body mass index, apolipoprotein E ϵ4 status and study phase as covariates. We identified nine metabolites as significantly associated with amyloid-β deposition after multiple comparison correction. Higher levels of one acylcarnitine (C3; propionylcarnitine) and one biogenic amine (kynurenine) were associated with decreased amyloid-β accumulation and higher memory scores. However, higher levels of seven phosphatidylcholines (lysoPC a C18:2, PC aa C42:0, PC ae C42:3, PC ae C44:3, PC ae C44:4, PC ae C44:5 and PC ae C44:6) were associated with increased brain amyloid-β deposition. In addition, higher levels of PC ae C44:4 were significantly associated with lower memory and executive function scores and conversion from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer's disease dementia. Our findings suggest that dysregulation of peripheral phosphatidylcholine metabolism is associated with earlier pathological changes noted in Alzheimer's disease as measured by brain amyloid-β deposition as well as later clinical features including changes in memory and executive functioning. Perturbations in phosphatidylcholine metabolism may point to issues with membrane restructuring leading to the accumulation of amyloid-β in the brain. Additional studies are needed to explore whether these metabolites play a causal role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease or if they are biomarkers for systemic changes during preclinical phases of the disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberfcab139
JournalBrain Communications
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • amyloid-β
  • cognition
  • metabolomics
  • phosphatidylcholine metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Neurology


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