A small study published in a recent issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease suggests that body fat may increase levels of the protein that causes Alzheimer's disease (AD). Researchers from Edith Cowan University in Joondalup, western Australia, used data from 18 healthy adults to find a link between the peptide, known as plasma amyloid-beta 42, and body mass index (BMI). They found that an increased BMI correlated with increased amyloid-beta 42 blood levels. That same correlation exists for fat mass as well. There was no link, however, between BMI/fat mass and amyloid-beta 40, a protein not associated with AD. Whereas obesity-related conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, also may be associated with increased AD risk, researchers made adjustments for these diseases. They concluded that it was the fat itself that increased the AD-causing protein. The researchers noted that amyloid-beta 42 "is very attracted to fat." The next step for investigators would be to follow the participants to see whether they develop AD and to further study the link between fat and this protein.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.