Predictors of Dementia : Insulin, Fatty Acids and Vascular Risk Factors

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Identification of modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is crucial in order to diminish suffering from this devastating disease. The aim of this thesis was to investigate if different aspects of glucose metabolism, insulin, fatty-acid composition or other vascular risk factors predict the future development of AD and dementia.This thesis is based on the Uppsala Longitudinal Study of Adult Men (ULSAM) cohort, which started in 1970. A total of 2322 men at age 50 were examined with focus on vascular risk factors. The cohort was re-examined at ages 60, 71, 77, 82 and 88. Incident diagnoses of AD, vascular dementia, other dementias and cognitive impairment were assessed in 2005–2010.The risk of AD was increased in subjects with lower early insulin response measured with both an intravenous glucose tolerance test at 50 years and an oral glucose tolerance test at 71 years of age. The presence of vascular risk factors such as hypertension, obesity, hypercholesterolemia and smoking increased the risk of future vascular dementia but not of AD. Furthermore, saturated fatty acids at midlife were inversely associated with risk of AD. No evidence of a protective effect of omega-3 fatty acids against dementia was found.The susceptibility allele, APOE ε4, was the strongest individual risk factor. APOE ε4 carriers with vascular risk factors had the greatest risk of developing dementia. Low insulin response was a risk factor for AD mainly in APOE ε4 non-carriers.Disturbances in insulin and glucose metabolism, vascular risk factors and fatty acids are linked differentially to the pathogenesis of AD and vascular dementia. These observations should be considered when future clinical approaches are planned to prevent and postpone the onset of dementia.

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