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Health & Medicine for Senior Citizens

Fat Hormone Adiponectin May Increase Dementia, Alzheimer’s Risk for Women

Study participants averaged 76 years of age at start of study – in 13 years 19% developed dementia; about 79% of those had Alzheimer’s

Jan. 2, 2012 – Adiponectin, a hormone in visceral fat, appears to play a role increasing the risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in older women, according to a study published Online First today by the Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

"It is well established that insulin signaling is dysfunctional in the brains of patients with AD, and since adiponectin enhances insulin sensitivity, one would also expect beneficial actions protecting against cognitive decline," the researchers from Tufts University write.

"Our data, however, indicate that elevated adiponectin level was associated with an increased risk of dementia and AD in women."

 

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Thomas M. van Himbergen, Ph.D., from the Lipid Metabolism Laboratory, Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, and colleagues measured levels of glucose, insulin, and glycated albumin, as well as C reactive protein, lipoprotein associated phospholipase A2, and adiponectin in the plasma of patients at the 19th biennial examination (1985 - 1988) of the Framingham Heart Study.

The 840 patients (541 women, median age of 76 years at the study’s beginning) were followed-up for an average of 13 years and evaluated for signs of the development of AD and all-cause dementia.

During that time, 159 patients, about 19%, developed dementia, including 125 cases of AD.

After adjustment for other dementia risk factors (age, apoE genotype, low plasma docosahexaenoic acid, weight change) only adiponectin in women was associated with an increased risk of all-cause dementia and AD.

"One of the main features of adiponectin is that it has been shown to play a role in the sensitization of insulin and therefore may become a therapeutic target for the treatment of T2D (type 2 diabetes). Surprisingly, a higher adiponectin level was found to be a predictor of all-cause and vascular mortality.

“In concurrence with the mortality findings, the current investigation shows that an elevated adiponectin level is also an independent predictor for all-cause dementia and AD in women," the authors conclude.

“The researchers also found high levels of the hormone in the men with dementia, but Schaefer said there were not enough men in the study to establish a link as strong as the one in women,” according to Carrie Gann, reporting for ABC News.

“Previous studies have connected diabetes and dementia, suggesting that the condition’s characteristic cognitive decline may be the result of malfunctions in the way the brain’s cells respond to insulin.

“Other research has also suggested that obesity, which often goes hand-in-hand with type 2 diabetes, may be another risk factor for dementia. However, most of the people in the current study were not obese and, with an average age of 88, were older than the patients studied in most dementia research.”

The researchers noted that the number of people affected by dementia worldwide is estimated to double over the next 20 years from the current number of about 36 million people, the authors provide as background information in the article. AD is the most common form of dementia.

Adiponectin is a hormone derived from visceral fat, which sensitizes the body to insulin, has anti-inflammatory properties, and plays a role in the metabolism of glucose and lipids."


Adiponectin: A protein hormone produced and secreted exclusively by adipocytes (fat cells) that regulates the metabolism of lipids and glucose. Adiponectin influences the body's response to insulin. Adiponectin also has antiinflammatory effects on the cells lining the walls of blood vessels.

High blood levels of adiponectin are associated with a reduced risk of heart attack. Low levels of adiponectin are found in people who are obese (and who are at increased risk of a heart attack). More at MedicineNet.com

 

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