Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC San Diego

UC San Diego Previously Published Works bannerUC San Diego

Metabolic Profiling of Cognitive Aging in Midlife


Alzheimer's dementia (AD) begins many years before its clinical symptoms. Metabolic dysfunction represents a core feature of AD and cognitive impairment, but few metabolomic studies have focused on cognitive aging in midlife. Using an untargeted metabolomics approach, we identified metabolic predictors of cognitive aging in midlife using fasting plasma sample from 30 middle-aged (mean age 57.2), male-male twin pairs enrolled in the Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging (VETSA). For all twin pairs, one twin developed incident MCI, whereas his co-twin brother remained to be cognitively normal during an average 5.5-year follow-up. Linear mixed model was used to identify metabolites predictive of MCI conversion or cognitive change over time, adjusting for traditional risk factors. Results from twins were replicated in an independent cohort of middle-aged adults (mean age 59.1) in the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention (WRAP). Results in twins showed that higher baseline levels of four plasma metabolites, including sphingomyelin (d18:1/20:1 and d18:2/20:0), sphingomyelin (d18:1/22:1, d18:2/22:0, and d16:1/24:1), DAG (18:2/20:4), and hydroxy-CMPF, were significantly associated with a slower decrease in one or more domains of cognitive function. The association of sphingomyelin (d18:1/20:1 and d18:2/20:0) was replicated in WRAP. Our results support that metabolic perturbation occurs many years before cognitive impairment and plasma metabolites may serve as early biomarkers for prediction or monitoring of cognitive aging and AD in midlife.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View