Participants’ blood samples were drawn years before their dementia diagnosis.

Sudha Seshadri, M.D., founding director of the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s & Neurodegenerative Diseases at UT Health San Antonio, is co-leader and senior author on research announced March 6 that identifies novel biomarkers of risk for future dementia.

The discovery is described in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. The study analyzed small molecules called metabolites in blood samples drawn from 22,623 individuals, including 995 who went on to develop dementia. The participants were enrolled in eight research cohorts in five countries.

Metabolites are influenced by genetic and environmental factors, and their levels can be modified through dietary and pharmacological interventions. “I hope that people reading about this study will understand that they can take ownership of their health,” Dr. Seshadri said. “The lifestyle decisions they make, such as adopting a Mediterranean or other healthful diet, can affect these metabolites in ways we do not fully understand.”

Further studies can clarify whether the branched-chain amino acids and other molecules play a causal role in the dementia disease process or are merely early markers of the disease, Dr. Seshadri said.

These findings will broaden the search for drug targets in dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease, vascular disease and other subtypes, said Dr. Seshadri, professor of neurology at UT Health San Antonio. Formerly of Boston University, Dr. Seshadri is a senior investigator in the long-running Framingham Heart Study and leads the neurology working group within several international consortia.

It is now recognized that we need to look beyond the traditionally studied amyloid and tau pathways and understand the entire spectrum of pathology involved in persons who present with symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias."
Dr. Seshadri, professor of neurology at UT Health San Antonio. Formerly of Boston University



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