Hidden Belly Fat Could Be a Precursor of Alzheimer’s Onset Years Later

Alzheimer’s is a progressive illness that often begins with mild loss of memory and confusion. This type of dementia involves parts of the brain that control memory, thought and language. Patients in very severe decline often have difficulty carrying out daily activities, which may include holding a conversation or responding to the environment.

As of 2020, estimates showed that about 5.8 million individuals in America were living with Alzheimer’s disease. Projections show that one in every five women and one in every ten men will develop this condition in their lifetime. While the exact cause of the disease isn’t known, researchers theorize that it may be brought on by an abnormal build-up of proteins such as amyloid and tau around brain cells as well as in them. Researchers also believe that genetics may play a role in the disease’s development.

Now, new research has found that visceral fat may heighten an individual’s risk of developing this disease. Visceral fat is fat buried within the belly that surrounds internal organs. The study, which was carried out by the Radiological Society of North America, reported its findings in the “Aging and Disease” journal. A press release from the radiological society stated that they had observed links between visceral fat and changes in the brain that could point to future dementia.

For their study, the researchers conducted an analysis of PET scans and MRIs of 54 cognitively healthy participants, centering on any inflammation, tangles and plaques, which are common in Alzheimer’s patients. All participants were between 40 and 60 years of age. The researchers also evaluated the levels of obesity, abdominal fatty tissue, BMIs and blood glucose of middle-aged adults.

They discovered that participants with more visceral fat had higher amyloid levels in the precuneus cortex. This brain region is said to show the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s. These patients also had greater inflammation in their brains. In addition, the researchers observed that men were more likely to demonstrate this correlation in comparison to women.

Mahsa Dolatshahi, the author of the study, stated that no previous research had linked a certain type of fat to the protein that causes Alzheimer’s in cognitively healthy individuals. Associate professor Cyrus A. Raji of Washington University, the study’s senior author, added that research now needed to look into how body fat affected the brain as BMI focused more on subcutaneous fat and missed visceral fat, which could be more damaging to an individual.

The researchers hope that their findings will be useful in the development of targeted treatments in the future.

Currently, several companies, such as Longeveron Inc. (NASDAQ: LGVN), are working to bring to market drugs with a superior level of efficacy against Alzheimer’s disease. These treatments could give patients a better quality of life while also slowing the progression of this neurodegenerative disease.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Longeveron Inc. (NASDAQ: LGVN) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/LGVN

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