Metabolic signatures of human Alzheimer's disease (AD): H-1 NMR analysis of the polar metabolome of post-mortem brain tissue

Stewart F. Graham*, Christian Holscher, Brian D. Green

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Brain tissue from so-called Alzheimer's disease (AD) mouse models has previously been examined using H-1 NMR-metabolomics, but comparable information concerning human AD is negligible. Since no animal model recapitulates all the features of human AD we undertook the first H-1 NMR-metabolomics investigation of human AD brain tissue. Human post-mortem tissue from 15 AD subjects and 15 age-matched controls was prepared for analysis through a series of lyophilised, milling, extraction and randomisation steps and samples were analysed using H-1 NMR. Using partial least squares discriminant analysis, a model was built using data obtained from brain extracts. Analysis of brain extracts led to the elucidation of 24 metabolites. Significant elevations in brain alanine (15.4 %) and taurine (18.9 %) were observed in AD patients (p ≤ 0.05). Pathway topology analysis implicated either dysregulation of taurine and hypotaurine metabolism or alanine, aspartate and glutamate metabolism. Furthermore, screening of metabolites for AD biomarkers demonstrated that individual metabolites weakly discriminated cases of AD [receiver operating characteristic (ROC) AUC <0.67; p < 0.05]. However, paired metabolites ratios (e.g. alanine/carnitine) were more powerful discriminating tools (ROC AUC = 0.76; p < 0.01). This study further demonstrates the potential of metabolomics for elucidating the underlying biochemistry and to help identify AD in patients attending the memory clinic
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)744-753
Number of pages10
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2014


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Human
  • Clinical
  • Brain
  • Metabolomics
  • NMR

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