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Leptin Linked to Lower Risk of Alzheimer's Disease

Finding supports wider role of leptin, may point to possible preventive and treatment strategies

TUESDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Older adults with higher leptin levels may have a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia in general, according to research published in the Dec. 16 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Wolfgang Lieb, M.D., of the Framingham Heart Study in Massachusetts, and colleagues analyzed data from 785 long-time participants in the study who were free of dementia in the early 1990s when their leptin was measured. A subset underwent volumetric brain MRI roughly eight years later.

The researchers found higher leptin to be associated with a lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease; those in the lowest quartile had a 25-percent absolute risk of Alzheimer's disease over 12 years of follow-up, compared to 6 percent in the top quartile. Higher leptin levels were also associated with higher total cerebral brain volume.

"If our findings are confirmed by others, leptin levels in older adults may serve as one of several possible biomarkers for healthy brain aging and, more importantly, may open new pathways for possible preventive and therapeutic intervention. Further exploration of the molecular and cellular basis for the observed association may expand our understanding of the pathophysiology underlying brain aging and the development of Alzheimer's disease," the authors conclude.

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