Urinary odor profile in lab mice signals onset of dementia.
A new study from collaborating institutions has discovered an odor profile in the urine of mouse models that is unique and appears before significant development of Alzheimer-related brain pathology, which could lead to the development of a early detection tool for the disease.
The indication of an early bio-marker for Alzheimer’s would allow physicians to begin to treat patients for the disease earlier, before the onset of cognitive decline, and could lead the way for treatments that would slow the progression of the debilitating disorder, according to an article on eurekalert.org.
And, says study author Bruce Kimball, PhD, who is a chemical ecologist with the United States Department of Agriculture National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) stationed at the Monell Center, this could have implications for other neurological diseases as well. Kimball adds, “Previous research from the USDA and Monell has focused on body odor changes due to exogenous sources such as viruses or vaccines. Now we have evidence that urinary odor signatures can be altered by changes in the brain characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.”
Alzheimer’s has stricken an estimated 5.1 million people over the age of 65 in the U.S. alone, and there is no current method for a definite diagnosis of the disease in a living person. Currently, there are no procedures or medications that can slow the progression or reverse the effects of the disease, but an early diagnosis can allow patients and their families to plan more accordingly for the anticipated necessary long-term care.
The researchers studied three separate mouse models, known as APP mice, that had been created to have an Alzheimer’s-related brain pathology. The findings indicated the APP mice produced a unique and identifiable urinary odor profile, identifiable from the mice in the control group.
The team says much more research must be done to determine if the urine odor test can be adapted to humans, since Alzheimer’s is only associated with humans and is unique to them. Still, this new discovery may lead to larger breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s diagnosis and treatments, along with other dementia-related illnesses.
The findings of the study were published in the online journal Scientific Reports.