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Fat Hormone May Contribute to Alzheimer in Women

Ernie Shannon's picture
Alzheimer Disease Gathering

Researchers are focusing on a visceral fat as a potential cause of dementia and Alzheimer disease in women.

In a study published in Archives of Neurology, a JAMA/Archives Journal, a hormone derived from a fat called adiponectin, could be a risk factor for development of the two brain dysfunctions. Dr. Thomas M. van Himbergen from the Lipid Metabolism Laboratory, Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, at Tufts University in Boston, along with colleagues, measured levels of glucose, insulin, and glycated albumin, as well as a reactive protein in 840 individuals. The patients were part of the 19th biennial examination of the Framingham Heart Study. This heart study is a long-term, ongoing cardiovascular look at residents of the town of Framingham, Massachusetts. The study began in 1948 with 5, 209 adult subjects from Framingham, and is now on its third generation of participants. Prior to that, almost nothing was known about “the epidemiology of hypertensive of arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

“It is well established that insulin signaling is dysfunctional in the brains of patients with Alzheimer Disease and since adiponectin enhances insulin sensitivity, one would also expect beneficial actions protecting against cognitive decline,” the authors wrote. “Our data, however, indicate that elevated adiponectin level was associated with an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer Disease in women.”

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According to the study, the patients were followed-up for an average of 13 years and evaluated for signs of the development of Alzheimer Disease and dementia. During that time, 159 patients developed dementia, including 125 cases of Alzheimer Disease. After adjustment for other dementia risk factors only adiponectin in women was associated with an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer Disease.

“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 type 2 diabetes,” said Dr. van Himbergen.

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 predict in the article. Alzheimer Disease is the most common form of dementia. The authors write that data suggest an association between insulin resistance and inflammation, hallmarks for type 2 diabetes, and development of dementia. Other findings agree with Dr. van Himbergen that suggest that diabetes is a significant risk factor for dementia, Alzheimer Disease, and vascular deentia.

Image source: Flickr. Used under the Creative Commons License.