Sex-specific effects of central adiposity and inflammatory markers on limbic microstructure

Claudia Metzler-Baddeley*, Jilu P Mole, Erika Leonaviciute, Rebecca Sims, Emma J Kidd, Benyamin Ertefai, Aurora Kelso-Mitchell, Florence Gidney, Fabrizio Fasano, John Evans, Derek K Jones, Roland J Baddeley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
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Midlife obesity is a risk factor of late onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD) but why this is the case remains unknown. As systemic inflammation is involved in both conditions, obesity-related neuroinflammation may contribute to damage in limbic structures important in LOAD. Here, we investigated the hypothesis that systemic inflammation would mediate central obesity related effects on limbic tissue microstructure in 166 asymptomatic individuals (38-71 years old). We employed MRI indices sensitive to myelin and neuroinflammation [macromolecular proton fraction (MPF) and kf] from quantitative magnetization transfer (qMT) together with indices from neurite orientation dispersion and density imaging (NODDI) to investigate the effects of central adiposity on the fornix, parahippocampal cingulum, uncinate fasciculus (compared with whole brain white matter and corticospinal tract) and the hippocampus. Central obesity was assessed with the Waist Hip Ratio (WHR) and abdominal visceral and subcutaneous fat area fractions (VFF, SFF), and systemic inflammation with blood plasma concentrations of leptin, adiponectin, C-reactive protein and interleukin 8. Men were significantly more centrally obese and had higher VFF than women. Individual differences in WHR and in VFF were negatively correlated with differences in fornix MPF and kf, but not with any differences in neurite microstructure. In women, age mediated the effects of VFF on fornix MPF and kf, whilst in men differences in the leptin and adiponectin ratio fully mediated the effect of WHR on fornix MPF. These results suggest that visceral fat related systemic inflammation may damage myelin-related properties of the fornix, a key limbic structure known to be involved in LOAD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)793-803
Number of pages11
Early online date5 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019

Structured keywords

  • Cognitive Science
  • Visual Perception


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