In Alzheimer's, Reduced Lean Mass Tied to Brain Atrophy

Whole-brain volume, white matter volume, cognitive performance associated with lean mass

MONDAY, April 12 (HealthDay News) -- Lean mass is reduced in people with early Alzheimer's disease compared with individuals without dementia, and this reduction is associated with brain atrophy and cognitive performance, according to a study in the April issue of the Archives of Neurology.

Jeffrey M. Burns, M.D., of the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional case-control study of 140 participants aged 60 or older, half of whom had early-stage Alzheimer's disease and half of whom did not have dementia. They evaluated participants with brain magnetic resonance imaging, neuropsychological testing, and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry to measure whole-body fat and lean masses.

The researchers found that total lean mass was reduced in the early Alzheimer's disease group compared with controls. In addition, global cognitive performance, white matter volume and whole-brain volume were associated with lean mass. The total body fat and percentage of body fat values were the same in both groups and were not related to cognition and brain volume.

"Our findings are consistent with prior studies indicating that alterations in body composition are apparent in the earliest clinical stages of Alzheimer's disease and extends these findings by suggesting that Alzheimer's disease-related alterations in body composition may be predominantly related to loss of lean mass (i.e., sarcopenia)," the authors write.

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