Being able to detect Alzheimer's disease during its early stages may result in significant improvements in health outcomes. Researchers work to diagnose the debilitating disease early and in a recent investigation, a group was able to discover that a distinct urine odor may help indicate the onset of Alzheimer's.
Researchers from the Monell Chemical Senses Center, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other institutions were able to discover a unique urine odor among mouse models of Alzheimer's disease, even before the disease fully blows up.
The study results may pave the way for experts to develop non-invasive diagnostic tests to determine Alzheimer's disease early.
Research investigator Bruce Kimball from the USDA National Wildlife Research Center said that past studies from Monell and the USDA concentrated on body odor alterations as a result of exogenous roots such as vaccines and viruses. He added that now, there is a proof that the typical urinary odor may be modified by brain changes due to Alzheimer's.
To come up with the results, the researchers examined three mouse models dubbed as "APP mice," which carry the brain pathology of Alzheimer's disease. They performed behavioral and chemical analyses and found that each of the samples produced urine that is highly distinct to that of the control mice.
The odor changes were not due to the appearance of a new substance rather a relative change in the concentrations of urinary compounds.
The results suggest that the distinct urine odor is associated with the presence of an existing gene instead of a development of new pathological changes in the brain.
Alzheimer's disease is a debilitating disorder that plagues about 5.1 million families in the United States. The disorder is the most common form of dementia and is typically diagnosed in people aged 65 years old and above.
As there are no curative treatments for Alzheimer's yet, the key is to detect the disease early so that families may plan ahead and seek appropriate symptomatic care for their loved ones. Having another potential Alzheimer's detector is a significant step towards improving disease outcomes.
"Establishing additional biomarkers in screening populations for AD will provide enhanced diagnostic specificity and will be critical in evaluating disease-modifying therapies," the authors wrote.
The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports on Thursday, Jan. 14.
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