Minerals as diagnostic of Alzheimer's disease



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Texas Tech University


The need exists for an easy, inexpensive diagnostic test for Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, several minerals were quantitatively analyzed in plasma and toenails of Alzheimer's disease subjects and control subjects.

Plasma was analyzed from sixteen Alzheimer's disease subjects and seventeen normal controls (the mean ages of these groups did not differ) for twenty-one minerals. A trend (p<0.1, n = 6) was seen for tin which was detected in only three of the male Alzheimer's disease subjects and was not detected in their age and sex matched controls. Lithium was found to be significantly higher (p<0.05) in the female Alzheimer's disease subjects (n = 9) as compared to their matched controls (n = 9). Lithium was high for all sixteen Alzheimer's disease subjects as compared to the seventeen normal controls, although this was merely a trend (p<0.10). No differences were seen for the other nineteen detected minerals; calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorus, aluminum, copper, iron, silicon, silver, boron, chromium, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, lead, strontium, titanium, and vanadium. Pearson r correlation coefficients were calculated for each mineral versus the ages of the Alzheimer's disease subjects, and for each mineral versus the ages of the control subjects. No significant correlations were found between the minerals and increasing age of the subjects.

Toenail samples were analyzed for the selenium content from nineteen Alzheimer's disease subjects and thirty-four control subjects whose mean age did not differ significantly. No significant differences were found for Selenium in male Alzheimer's disease (n = 9) versus male control (n = 17) subjects, female Alzheimer's disease (n = 10) versus female control (n = 17) subjects and all Alzheimer's disease subjects (n = 19) versus all control subjects (n = 34).

The results of this study indicate that there may be a relationship between Alzheimer disease and lithium. Lithium displaces calcium which is reported in other studies to be deficient in some Alzheimer's disease subjects. Lithium also may inhibit the synthesis of acetylcholine which is knov/n to be decreased in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients. Lithium in plasma may be useful as a diagnostic marker for Alzheimer disease.