Targeted lipidomics distinguishes patient subgroups in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and late onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD)

Full Title: Targeted lipidomics distinguishes patient subgroups in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and late onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD)

Journal: BBA clinical

Year of Publication: 2016

PHHI Author(s): Giuseppe Valacchi
Publication Author(s): Paul L Wood, Victoria A Locke, Patrick Herling, Angelina Passaro, Giovanni B Vigna, Stefano Volpato, Giuseppe Valacchi, Carlo Cervellati, Giovanni Zuliani



Diverse research approaches support the concept that a clinical diagnosis of Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease (LOAD) does not distinguish between subpopulations with differing neuropathologies, including dementia patients with amyloid deposition and dementia patients without amyloid deposition but with cortical thinning. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is generally considered the prodromal phase for LOAD, however, while a number of studies have attempted to define plasma biomarkers for the conversion of MCI to LOAD, these studies have not taken into account the heterogeneity of patient cohorts within a clinical phenotype.


Studies of MCI and LOAD in several laboratories have demonstrated decrements in ethanolamine plasmalogen levels in plasma and brain and increased levels of diacylglycerols in plasma and brain. To further extend these studies and to address the issue of heterogeneity in MCI and LOAD patient groups we investigated the levels of diacylglycerols and ethanolamine plasmalogens in larger cohorts of patients utilizing, high-resolution (0.2 to 2 ppm mass error) mass spectrometry.


For the first time, our lipidomics data clearly stratify both MCI and LOAD subjects into 3 different patient cohorts within each clinical diagnosis. These include i) patients with lower circulating ethanolamine plasmalogen levels; ii) patients with augmented plasma diacylglycerol levels; and iii) patients with neither of these lipid alterations.


These represent the first serum biochemical data to stratify MCI and LOAD patients, advancing efforts to biochemically define patient heterogeneity in cognitive disorders.

General significance

Lipidomics offers a new approach for identifying biomarkers and biological targets in cognitive disorders.

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