Alzheimer's Disease has Altered Blood Fats

March 17, 2014
Alzheimer's Disease and Altered Blood Fats
Reference:  Nature Medicine March 2014

 Imagine!  A blood test that could predict Alzheimer’s disease with 90% accuracy.  That would be a blockbuster.  Right now we have some tests that have some predictability like the spinal tap or specialized MRI scans but they are either expensive or “not so good”.  And Alzheimer’s progresses with deadly effects as it robs us of our memory and relationships.  If things keep going the way they are, fully 50% of us will have it by age 85.  It seems to act as a disease of insulin resistance in the brain, and having low-grade diabetes makes for one of the leading risk factors for the illness. To have a blood test that predicts it would be huge.

And that’s what this study showed.  Taking 10 different lipids, these researchers did a careful statistical analysis of the combination and found it to be able to predict Alzheimer’s with 90% accuracy.  They followed 525 folks over age 70 for up to five years and watched who converted from normal to Alzheimer’s in that time period.  No one lipid was positive.  In fact, each of the 10 were only 10-40 % different than the “average”, but the combination made a composite score that was 90% accurate.  Impressive. 

Now, it just needs to be repeated with a larger number of folks.   This study makes sense to me.  Phospholipids are energized phosphate-containing fats that are heavily concentrated in our brains. There are dozens of different ones.  Some of the names in this study are things like lysophophatidylcholine (lysoPCaC18:2) and acylcarnitines (ACs)Propionyl AC(C3) and C16:1-OH).  Our modern American diet has dramatically shifted with massive changes in the micronutrient fat content.  Our omega-three fat content has dropped and our omega 6 fat content has surged. These two families represent fully 40% of the dry weight of our brains.  Very likely, (and this is my conjecture) we have also had equally disruptive changes in the content of our phosopholipid intake.  Add that to the dramatic surge in sugar with its damaging effects, and one could argue it’s a wonder we haven’t gotten in more trouble sooner.
(Editor's note:  this work was published years before Goodenowe blew the door down with his research on plasmalogens.  But here is where it started.   Note inserted 1/7/22)

 www.  What Will Work for Me.  Phosphatidyl choline is thought to be useful as an adjunct treatment for the prevention of Alzheimer’s.  Will taking one of these fats work to prevent Alzheimer’s? I think it’s time to craft a strategy to supply these micronutrients as food supplements for those who are concerned.  At least some of them.  And next time I forget to do some errand, I wonder if I shouldn’t  be the first on them.


 1.  Your risk of developing Alzheimer's, if you live to age 85 is?                 Answer:   50%
 2.  Being mildly diabetic is a high risk for developing Alzheimer's.  T or F               Answer:  True
 3.  Some other risks for Alzheimer's include?                         Answer:  Lack of exercise Lack of love and relationships (never married) Birth order (worse for later) Stress Family history Low Vitamin D Low fish oil intake
 4.  We have accurate means of testing for Alzheimer's before it is diagnosed clinically?  T or F  
Answer: False. We haven't got much that's useful.
 5.  Our current methods of treatment of Alzheimer's are so effective that we advertise for them all the time.  T or F                       Answer:   False.  It's pretty false hope that we advertising.  Perhaps a bit of slowing but not stopping.
 6.  This test is ready to be done on you if you are worried.  T or F                        Answer:  No (Editor's note: in 2014 it was no.  After 2021, the answer became Yes).  Has to hold up in a bigger study.  

The column was written by Dr John Whitcomb at Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI