Higher inflammatory marker scores in middle age, based on five blood-based markers of inflammation (fibrinogen, albumin, von Willebrand factor, factor VIII and white blood cell count) appear to be associated with reduced brain volume (thought to be neurodegenerative “shrinkage”) in the following brain regions in later life:
- Hippocampal volume: an area of the brain involved in memory.
- Occipital lobe volume: an area of the brain used for visual processing.
- Volume of the AD (Alzheimer’s Disease) signature region: an area of the brain typically smaller in people with Alzheimer’s Disease (in the cerebrum, responsible for higher mental functioning).
The degree of association between mid-life inflammation and later-life brain volumes appears to vary with age and race. An NHS Choices Behind the Headlines critical appraisal explores possible weaknesses in the significance of these findings, and some potential shortcomings of this interesting research.
Could a blood test in middle age predict dementia risk? London: NHS Choices; Behind the Headlines, November 2nd 2017.
This relates to:
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Walker, KA. Hoogeveen, RC. [and] Folsom, AR. [et al] (2017). Midlife systemic inflammatory markers are associated with late-life brain volume: The ARIC study. Neurology. November 1st 2017. [Epub ahead of print].