Metabolic Profiling of Neocortical Tissue Discriminates Alzheimer's Disease from Mild Cognitive Impairment, High Pathology Controls, and Normal Controls

Paniz Jasbi, Xiaojian Shi, Ping Chu, Natalie Elliott, Haley Hudson, Douglas Jones, Geidy Serrano, Brandon Chow, Thomas G. Beach, Li Liu, Garilyn Jentarra, Haiwei Gu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for an estimated 60-80% of cases, and is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. While considerable advancements have been made in the clinical care of AD, it remains a complicated disorder that can be difficult to identify definitively in its earliest stages. Recently, mass spectrometry (MS)-based metabolomics has shown significant potential for elucidation of disease mechanisms and identification of therapeutic targets as well diagnostic and prognostic markers that may be useful in resolving some of the difficulties affecting clinical AD studies, such as effective stratification. In this study, complementary gas chromatography- and liquid chromatography-MS platforms were used to detect and monitor 2080 metabolites and features in 48 postmortem tissue samples harvested from the superior frontal gyrus of male and female subjects. Samples were taken from four groups: 12 normal control (NC) patients, 12 cognitively normal subjects characterized as high pathology controls (HPC), 12 subjects with nonspecific mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and 12 subjects with AD. Multivariate statistics informed the construction and cross-validation (p < 0.01) of partial least squares-discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) models defined by a nine-metabolite panel of disease markers (lauric acid, stearic acid, myristic acid, palmitic acid, palmitoleic acid, and four unidentified mass spectral features). Receiver operating characteristic analysis showed high predictive accuracy of the resulting PLS-DA models for discrimination of NC (97%), HPC (92%), MCI (∼96%), and AD (∼96%) groups. Pathway analysis revealed significant disturbances in lysine degradation, fatty acid metabolism, and the degradation of branched-chain amino acids. Network analysis showed significant enrichment of 11 enzymes, predominantly within the mitochondria. The results expand basic knowledge of the metabolome related to AD and reveal pathways that can be targeted therapeutically. This study also provides a promising basis for the development of larger multisite projects to validate these candidate markers in readily available biospecimens such as blood to enable the effective screening, rapid diagnosis, accurate surveillance, and therapeutic monitoring of AD. All raw mass spectrometry data have been deposited to MassIVE (data set identifier MSV000087165).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4303-4317
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Proteome Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 3 2021


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • biomarkers
  • mass spectrometry
  • metabolomics
  • pathogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry


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