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Association between Plasma Ceramides and Phosphatidylcholines and Hippocampal Brain Volume in Late Onset Alzheimer's Disease

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Min Kim, Alejo Nevado-Holgado, Luke Whiley, Stuart G. Snowden, Hilkka Soininen, Iwona Kloszewska, Patrizia Mecocci, Magda Tsolaki, Bruno Vellas, Madhav Thambisetty, Richard J. B. Dobson, John E. Powell, Michelle K. Lupton, Andy Simmons, Latha Velayudhan, Simon Lovestone, Petroula Proitsi, Cristina Legido-Quigley

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)809-817
Issue number3
Accepted/In press4 Oct 2016
Published3 Oct 2017


King's Authors


Lipids such as ceramides (Cer) and phosphatidylcholines (PC) have been found altered in the plasma of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients in a number of discovery studies. For this reason, the levels of 6 ceramides and 3 PCs, with different fatty acid length and saturation levels, were measured in the plasma from 412 participants (AD n = 205, Control n = 207) using mass spectrometry coupled with ultra-performance liquid chromatography. After this, associations with AD status, brain atrophy, and age-related effects were studied. In the plasma of AD participants, cross-sectional analysis revealed elevated levels of three ceramides (Cer16:0 p < 0.01, Cer18:0 p < 0.01, Cer24:1 p < 0.05). In addition, two PCs in AD plasma (PC36:5 p < 0.05, PC38:6 p < 0.05) were found to be depleted compared to the control group, with PC36:5 also associating with hippocampal atrophy (p < 0.01). Age-specific analysis further revealed that levels of Cer16:0, Cer18:0, and Cer20:0 were associated with hippocampal atrophy only in younger participants (age < 75, p < 0.05), while all 3 PCs did so in the older participants (age > 75, p < 0.05). PC36:5 was associated with AD status in the younger group (p < 0.01), while PC38:6 and 40:6 did so in the older group (p < 0.05). In this study, elevated ceramides and depleted PCs were found in the plasma from 205 AD volunteers. Our findings also suggest that dysregulation in PC and ceramide metabolism could be occurring in different stages of AD progression.

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