Targeted metabolic profiling of urine highlights a potential biomarker panel for the diagnosis of alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment: A pilot study

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© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. The lack of sensitive and specific biomarkers for the early detection of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a major hurdle to improving patient management. A targeted, quantitative metabolomics approach using both1H NMR and mass spectrometry was employed to investigate the performance of urine metabolites as potential biomarkers for MCI and AD. Correlation-based feature selection (CFS) and least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (LASSO) methods were used to develop biomarker panels tested using support vector machine (SVM) and logistic regression models for diagnosis of each disease state. Metabolic changes were investigated to identify which biochemical pathways were perturbed as a direct result of MCI and AD in urine. Using SVM, we developed a model with 94% sensitivity, 78% specificity, and 78% AUC to distinguish healthy controls from AD sufferers. Using logistic regression, we developed a model with 85% sensitivity, 86% specificity, and an AUC of 82% for AD diagnosis as compared to cognitively healthy controls. Further, we identified 11 urinary metabolites that were significantly altered to include glucose, guanidinoacetate, urocanate, hippuric acid, cytosine, 2-and 3-hydroxyisovalerate, 2-ketoisovalerate, tryptophan, trimethylamine N oxide, and malonate in AD patients, which are also capable of diagnosing MCI, with a sensitivity value of 76%, specificity of 75%, and accuracy of 81% as compared to healthy controls. This pilot study suggests that urine metabolomics may be useful for developing a test capable of diagnosing and distinguishing MCI and AD from cognitively healthy controls.

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