Formic Acid as a Urinary Biomarker for Early-Stage Alzheimer Disease


New research finds that a urine test for formic acid could detect early-stage Alzheimer disease.

Alzheimer disease


A new study is the first to identify formic acid as a sensitive urinary biomarker that can reveal early-stage Alzheimer disease.1

Investigators found that urinary formic acid is a sensitive marker of subjective cognitive decline that may indicate the very early stages of Alzheimer disease. A noninvasive, inexpensive urine test for formic acid could help improve the rate of diagnosis, which often comes too late for effective treatment.

“Alzheimer disease is a continuous and concealed chronic disease, meaning that it can develop and last for many years before obvious cognitive impairment emerges,” said the authors. “The early stages of the disease occur before the irreversible dementia stage, and this is the golden window for intervention and treatment. Therefore, large-scale screening for early-stage Alzheimer disease is necessary for the elderly.”2

To identify differences in urinary biomarkers, investigators tested 574 participants, either with Alzheimer disease of differing levels of progression or healthy controls with normal cognition. By analyzing urine and blood samples, as well as psychological evaluations, the investigators were able to determine formic acid’s viability as a biomarker.

These investigators previously studied formaldehyde as a urinary biomarker for Alzheimer disease, but found there was potential further improvement for detecting the disease. Formic acid, a metabolic product of formaldehyde, performed better as a biomarker.

The full study, “Systematic evaluation of urinary formic acid as a new potential biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease,” was published in Frontiers.1


1. Wang Y, Wang Y, Zhu J, et al. Systematic evaluation of urinary formic acid as a new potential biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease. Front Aging Neurosci. 2022;30.

2. Hastings C. Biomarker in urine could be the first to reveal early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Frontiers Science News. News release. November 30, 2022.

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