Plasma fatty acid lipidomics in amnestic mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease

Luigi Iuliano, Antonio Pacelli, Marco Ciacciarelli, Chiara Zerbinati, Sabrina Fagioli, Fabrizio Piras, Maria Donata Orfei, Paola Bossù, Floriana Pazzelli, Gaetano Serviddio, Carlo Caltagirone, Gianfranco Spalletta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) of the n-3 series have been linked to brain physiology and cognitive decline, but little is known about the other components of the complex fatty acids category. Here, we compared 30 molecular species pertaining to saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans fatty acids, measured in plasma by gas chromatography, in 14 patients with a diagnosis of amnestic single domain mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), 30 patients with mild Alzheimer's disease (AD), and 30 healthy controls (HC). As no participants showed neuroimaging evidence of cerebrovascular disease, patients could be considered as purely neurodegenerative. We found differences in specific components of almost all fatty acid classes except n-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids. Compared with HC, aMCI and AD patients had higher levels of arachidic (C20:0), erucic (C22:1, n-9), and vaccenic acid (C18:1, n-9) and lower levels of cerotic (C26:0) and linoleic acid (C18:2, n-6). In particular, level of linoleic acid decreased and level of mead acid increased progressively from HC to aMCI to AD patients, and they were also inversely correlated in AD and aMCI patients. In conclusion, we found a previously unrecognized linoleic acid deficiency in the early phase of neurodegeneration that was strongly supported by an increased, compensatory mead acid level. These findings suggest the importance of creating new dietary manipulation strategies to counteract disease progression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)545-553
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • fatty acids
  • linoleic acid
  • neurodegeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Clinical Psychology

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    Iuliano, L., Pacelli, A., Ciacciarelli, M., Zerbinati, C., Fagioli, S., Piras, F., Orfei, M. D., Bossù, P., Pazzelli, F., Serviddio, G., Caltagirone, C., & Spalletta, G. (2013). Plasma fatty acid lipidomics in amnestic mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 36(3), 545-553.