Press Release

Findings That Could Help Identify Alzheimer’s Patients Who Will Benefit From Exercise Announced at the 71st AACC Annual Scientific Meeting

ANAHEIM, Calif. â€“ A novel study has discovered metabolites that predict which Alzheimer’s patients are likely to see their symptoms improve with exercise therapy. These findings were unveiled today at the 71st AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo, and could be used to develop a blood test to guide Alzheimer’s treatment.

In the U.S., one out of every 3 seniors has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia when they die, and from 2000-2017, deaths from Alzheimer’s soared by 145%. A major reason why the Alzheimer’s mortality rate continues to climb is that there is currently no cure for the disease, or even a way to slow its progression. In the last several years, however, promising studies have shown that exercise enhances cognition in Alzheimer’s patients and also reduces the accumulation of amyloid plaques in the brain, which are a physiological hallmark of the disease. Numerous phase III clinical trials are now investigating exercise’s efficacy as a treatment. Patient response to exercise therapy varies, though, which means that if exercise becomes an approved treatment for Alzheimer’s, healthcare providers will also need a test to identify the patients who will benefit from it.

A team of researchers led by Danni Li, PhD, and Fang Yu, PhD, of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, has identified blood metabolites that could be used to predict cognitive response to exercise in Alzheimer’s patients. To identify these metabolites, Li and Yu’s team studied 26 patients from the FIT-AD Trial, which is a clinical trial investigating the effects of cycling on mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers measured the levels of 188 metabolites in participants’ blood before the trial began and after 12 months. At the same time points, the team tested patients’ cognitive abilities using the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognition tool. The team then used statistical analysis to identify metabolites that increased or decreased in response to exercise and in association with cognitive improvements. Altogether, the researchers found that changes in the levels of two phospholipids (lysoPC a C18.2 and PC aa C40.6) and five amino acids (isoleucine, leucine, methionine, tyrosine, and valine) were associated with an improvement in Alzheimer’s patients’ cognitive abilities.

“Exercise treatment is a very promising intervention for Alzheimer’s patients and is even an effective treatment for cognitive impairment in patients without Alzheimer’s,” said Li. “But we also know that not everyone responds to exercise in the same way, so we want to use this research to develop a test to see who is going to respond better to exercise treatment. This is in line with the model of precision medicine, and finding the right person who will respond to the right therapy.”

Ghaith Altawallbeh, PhD, a fellow at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, will present this work at the AACC Annual Scientific Meeting.

Session Information

AACC Annual Scientific Meeting registration is free for members of the media. Reporters can register online here:

Abstract A-143: Plasma Metabolites to Predict Response to Exercise in Alzheimer's Disease will be presented during the following two sessions:

AACC Student Poster Contest (Part 2): Poster Presentations
Monday, August 5
2:15 - 3:30 p.m.
Room 201D

Scientific Poster Session
Tuesday, August 6
9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (presenting author in attendance from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.)
Exhibit Hall

Both sessions will take place at the Anaheim Convention Center in California.

About the 71st AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo

The AACC Annual Scientific Meeting offers 5 days packed with opportunities to learn about exciting science from August 4-8. Plenary sessions feature the latest research on accelerating the clinical adoption of new biomedical discoveries, the influence of genetics and brain circuitry on behavior, targeted breast cancer treatment, advances in precision medicine, and extremely rapid molecular diagnostic tests.

At the AACC Clinical Lab Expo, more than 800 exhibitors will fill the show floor of the Anaheim Convention Center in California with displays of the latest diagnostic technology, including but not limited to mobile health, molecular diagnostics, mass spectrometry, point-of-care, and automation.

About AACC

Dedicated to achieving better health through laboratory medicine, AACC brings together more than 50,000 clinical laboratory professionals, physicians, research scientists, and business leaders from around the world focused on clinical chemistry, molecular diagnostics, mass spectrometry, translational medicine, lab management, and other areas of progressing laboratory science. Since 1948, AACC has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing programs that advance scientific collaboration, knowledge, expertise, and innovation. For more information, visit

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