A study finds that this simple test can identify people with memory problems and Alzheimer's disease based on the level of formic acid in their urine.
Urine and blood tests are the main hope for one day screening people for early signs of dementia, as is the case now for early-onset cancer.
Computed tomography and positron emission tomography of the brain are expensive and expose people to radiation, while spinal taps to look for clues in the cerebrospinal fluid are uncomfortable and invasive.
However, while urine and blood tests are faster and clearer, more research is needed on how well they work.
A study conducted on nearly 600 people suggests that having too much formic acid in the urine could be a warning sign of Alzheimer's disease.
The researchers divided 574 people into five groups, including those with normal thinking skills, people with cognitive decline, and people with more severe cognitive impairment.
The fourth group included people with "mild cognitive impairment" - a clinical diagnosis that can lead to Alzheimer's disease, while the fifth group already had Alzheimer's disease.
Formic acid was higher among people in each group with Alzheimer's disease or cognitive problems, compared to those with normal thinking skills.
Formic acid is produced in the body from formaldehyde, which at high levels in the brain may lead to the clumps of harmful proteins seen in people with Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers believe it may be a red flag for Alzheimer's disease that could be used along with blood tests to detect the condition.
Sian Gregory, director of research information at the Alzheimer's Society, said: "This is an exciting finding because it offers a potential new way to screen for Alzheimer's disease that is less invasive and more cost-effective than current methods of diagnosing the disease. This has never been more important, as "Dementia diagnosis rates have fallen to their lowest level in five years. However, this research is at an early stage and the study was fairly small. We are keen to do more research to understand how Alzheimer's disease may increase levels of formic acid in the urine."
The study, published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, suggests that looking for formic acid in urine works better than blood tests for some proteins associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Urine test results were linked to memory tests of people in the study, with higher levels of formic acid on average in people who performed worse on the tests.
Indicators of disease in the blood and urine are known as vital signs.
Dr. Francesco Tamagnini, a dementia expert and neuroscientist from the University of Reading, said: "For Alzheimer's, one of the sacred things, other than finding a cure and improving people's quality of life, is to be able to screen people with something like a urine or blood test. Just as we use a blood test for research. For prostate cancer or a mammogram to look for breast cancer, we need a simple, painless test to show early signs of dementia, even before amnesia sets in, which can then be followed later with scans or a spinal tap if needed."
However, we need more research before we find out whether urine testing will work in practice.
Source News: Daily Mail From RT @ https://ar.rt.com/ua0m