Plasma metabolic profile delineates roles for neurodegeneration, pro-inflammatory damage and mitochondrial dysfunction in the FMR1 premutation Academic Article uri icon


  • Carriers of premutation CGG expansions in the fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) gene are at higher risk of developing a late-onset neurodegenerative disorder named Fragile X-associated tremor ataxia syndrome (FXTAS). Given that mitochondrial dysfunction has been identified in fibroblasts, PBMC and brain samples from carriers as well as in animal models of the premutation and that mitochondria are at the center of intermediary metabolism, the aim of the present study was to provide a complete view of the metabolic pattern by uncovering plasma metabolic perturbations in premutation carriers. To this end, metabolic profiles were evaluated in plasma from 23 premutation individuals and 16 age- and sex-matched controls. Among the affected pathways, mitochondrial dysfunction was associated with a Warburg-like shift with increases in lactate levels and altered Krebs' intermediates, neurotransmitters, markers of neurodegeneration and increases in oxidative stress-mediated damage to biomolecules. The number of CGG repeats correlated with a subset of plasma metabolites, which are implicated not only in mitochondrial disorders but also in other neurological diseases, such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Huntington's diseases. For the first time, the identified pathways shed light on disease mechanisms contributing to morbidity of the premutation, with the potential of assessing metabolites in longitudinal studies as indicators of morbidity or disease progression, especially at the early preclinical stages.

publication date

  • 2016