Can small amounts of DNA in the blood predict an older person’s risk of frailty and dementia? Elizabeth Tracey reports


DNA found circulating freely in the blood may point to an increased risk for frailty and dementia in older people, a Johns Hopkins study led by Peter Abadir, a geriatrics expert, has found. The study enrolled participants without any signs of dementia or frailty and followed them over about seven years.

Abadir: When we talk about DNA fragments we’re talking about cell loss, cell death. The more you have the more cell death you’re experiencing at that early point in life. That process is a little bit complicated because it will also depend on how much you are replacing those cells but overall our data shows up that the trajectory is steeper for those people who have higher levels of cell death, toward  faster cognitive and physical decline as they age. Higher levels, lower function.  :28

Abadir hopes a screening test may result from this study that would enable physicians to identify at risk people early and intervene if possible. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.