A hormone found in body fat around the middle may contribute to an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, particularly in women, a new study has suggested.
A report in Monday’s Archives of Neurology has found that an increased presence of the hormone adiponectin can increase the risk for loss of brain function, CNN reported.
“An additional potential factor that may contribute to the onset of AD and all-cause dementia is adiponectin,” ANI cited the study as saying.
Adiponectin, a hormone produced by fat cells, helps regulate the body’s response to insulin and metabolism.
ABC News reported that adiponectin helps the body use insulin to deliver fuels like glucose to different cells, such as the neurons in the brain.
And according to CNN:
Higher levels of adiponectin have been shown to help lower the risk for Type 2 Diabetes. But, the authors found that older women who had developed dementia also had higher levels of the hormone.
The findings reportedly surprised Dr. Ernst Schaefer, director of the Tufts University Lipid Metabolism Laboratory and one of the study’s authors.
“We expected adiponectin to protect against dementia, and it turned out to be just the opposite,” CNN quoted him as saying.
The researchers tracked 840 patients (541 women, median age of 76 years) for an average of 13 years, studying frozen blood samples, to evaluate for signs of the development of Alzheimer’s disease — the most common form of dementia — and all-cause dementia.
Of the 541 women, 159 developed some form of dementia, including 125 cases of Alzheimer’s disease.
The study authors found that increased levels of adiponectin increased the likelihood of dementia development by 60 percent, and of Alzheimer’s by 90 percent.
Alzheimer’s disease impacts 80 percent of the elderly, most of them over the age of 65, and according to an Alzheimer’s Association report, two-thirds of sufferers are women.
According to the World Alzheimer’s Report, 36 million people are affected by dementia worldwide, and that number is expected to double in the next 20 years.
Dr. Roger Brumback, a neurologist at the Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, told ABC News that more research was needed before the link between metabolism and dementia could be truly understood.
“This study just reinforces our need for much more research on the relationship of insulin signaling to brain function and then its relationship to dementing illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease,” he said.