A new study found that women with high levels of a hormone called adiponectin, a hormone found in body fat, were at an increased risk of developing dementia. Scientists say the findings reflect the complicated and still unclear relationships between metabolism, hormones and the brain degeneration that occurs in dementia.
The large Framingham Heart Study which studied frozen blood samples from 840 participants and monitored for 13 years, showed that 159 people who developed dementia had high levels of adiponectin.
Adiponectin helps the body use insulin to deliver fuels like glucose to different cells, such as the neurons in the brain.
Study author Dr. Ernst Schaefer, a professor of medicine and nutrition at Tufts University, said: “Adiponectin is supposed to be beneficial. It’s supposed to decrease your risk of diabetes, supposed to decrease the risk of heart disease. But in this particular study, to our surprise, it increased the risk of dementia.”
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.
Dr. Roger Brumback, a neurologist at the Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, said: “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.”
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