Your spit may hold a clue to future brain health, according to new research.
A new study from researchers at the Beaumont Research Institute, part of Beaumont Health in Michigan, shows promise that small molecules in saliva can help identify those at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
They found that salivary molecules may act as reliable diagnostic biomarkers, which could help diagnose the disease in its earliest stages before brain damage occurs and dementia begins.
“We used metabolomics, a newer technique to study molecules involved in metabolism,” said Stewart Graham, Ph.D. “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.”
Metabolomics is used in medicine and biology for the study of living organisms. It measures large numbers of naturally occurring small molecules, called metabolites, present in the blood, saliva, and tissues, researchers explain. The pattern or fingerprint of metabolites in the biological sample can be used to learn about the health of the organism.
“Our team’s study demonstrates the potential for using metabolomics and saliva for the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease,” Graham said. “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 noninvasive means of getting cellular samples and it’s also inexpensive.”
The study participants included 29 adults in three groups: Mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, and a control group.
After specimens were collected, the researchers positively identified and accurately quantified 57 metabolites.
Some of the observed variances in the biomarkers were significant, the researchers noted.
From their data, they were able to make predictions as to those at most risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
“Worldwide, the development of valid and reliable biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease is considered the No. 1 priority for most national dementia strategies,” Graham said. “It’s a necessary first step to design prevention and early-intervention research studies.”
The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Source: IOS Press