According to a new American study, increased abdominal fat and therefore waist circumference is linked to Alzheimer’s disease. How to explain the phenomenon? The answers of Dr Christophe de Jaeger, physiologist and member of the TipsForWomens expert committee.
What is the link between abdominal fat and Alzheimer’s disease? Although on the surface there seems to be none, an American study reveals that a larger waistline is linked to the development of neurodegenerative disease.
An analysis of physical and brain morphology
For this study, the results of which will be presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), which takes place from November 26 to 30 in Chicago, the researchers brought together a cohort of 54 participants. All were in good cognitive health, with an age ranging between 40 and 60 years and an average BMI of 32.
Participants underwent glucose and insulin measurements, as well as glucose tolerance tests. Furthermore, the volume of body fat and visceral fat was measured by abdominal MRI. They also had a brain MRI that measured the cortical thickness of brain regions usually affected by Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, a PET scan was performed on 32 volunteers to focus on amyloid plaques and tangles of Tau protein, which accumulates in the brain in Alzheimer’s disease.
Brain changes linked to waist size
Results: Researchers found that a higher visceral-to-body fat ratio was associated with higher uptake of the amyloid tracer PET in the precuneus cortex, the region known to be affected early in Alzheimer’s disease. “Other studies have linked BMI to brain atrophy or even a higher risk of dementia.” says study author Mahsa Dolatshahi, a researcher at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “No previous studies have linked a specific type of fat to the Alzheimer’s disease protein in cognitively healthy people.”.
Could treating visceral fat be a way to prevent Alzheimer’s?
Visceral fat, which surrounds the internal organs in the abdomen, is therefore linked to brain changes, up to 15 years before the appearance of symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. This research therefore suggests that treating visceral fat may be a potential way to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Inflammatory secretions of visceral fat, as opposed to the potentially protective effects of body fat, may lead to inflammation of the brain, one of the main mechanisms contributing to Alzheimer’s disease. note the scientists.
For Dr de Jaeger, physiologist and member of the TipsForWomens expert committee, “This fascinating study is in line with what is already known. This corresponds to an element already observed in physiology, namely that we must fight against fat mass, responsible for inflammatory phenomena in the body, but also a source of cardiovascular, neurodegenerative and vascular diseases..