Can DNA in the blood indicate someone’s risk for frailty and dementia? Elizabeth Tracey reports


DNA found freely circulating in the blood is increasingly important clinically. Now a Johns Hopkins study has found that so-called ‘cell free DNA’ may be helpful in identifying risk for frailty and dementia in older folks. Clinician and researcher Lolita Nidadavolu explains.

Nidadavolu: We focused on this newer identified molecule called cell free DNA which has been a very useful biomarker in the cancer field. And it’s a marker of just generalized cell death. What we found is that in individuals that don’t have any clinically determined frailty or cognitive disturbance at the time of measurement, those that had higher levels of these in their blood, over about an eight year time span were individuals at a higher risk of developing dementia in that time period.   :26

Nidadavolu says frailty predicts many adverse clinical outcomes in older people so identifying those at risk may allow interventions to stave it off, and as new therapies are identified for various forms of dementia an early warning could prove key. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.