High levels of "bad" cholesterol have been linked to the presence of amyloid plaque deposits on the brain, a key indicator of Alzheimer's.
Much like in the case of heart disease, high levels of HDL, good cholesterol, and low levels of LDL, bad cholesterol, are associated with low deposits of this plaque.
The study, published in the journal JAMA Neurology, was conducted on 74 participants over the age of 70, including three individuals with mild dementia, 38 who had mild cognitive impairment and 33 who were cognitively normal.
Using chemical tracers and brain scans, researchers determined the participants' plaque levels. They found that higher levels of LDL coupled with lower HDL levels led to higher deposits of brain amyloid, the first time research has been able to link cholesterol to amyloid deposits in living human study participants.
"If modifying cholesterol levels in the brain early in life turns out to reduce amyloid deposits late in life, we could potentially make a significant difference in reducing the prevalence of Alzheimer’s, a goal of an enormous amount of research and drug development effort,” said lead author Bruce Reed, a professor at the University of California at Davis.
[University of California at Davis] [JAMA Neurology]