Increases in total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein associated with decreased cognitive performance in healthy elderly adults

  • Con Stough
  • Andrew Pipingas
  • David CamfieldEmail author
  • Karen Nolidin
  • Karen Savage
  • Saurenne Deleuil
  • Andrew Scholey
Original Article


The current study examined associations between blood lipid profiles and cognitive functioning using a healthy non-demented elderly sample. The sample comprised 196 healthy volunteers (male; 86: female 110) aged 60–75 years from the Australian Research Council Longevity Intervention (ARCLI) study cohort. Serum total cholesterol (T-C), low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-c), high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-c) and triglycerides (TGL) were collected, and participants completed the Swinburne University Computerized Cognitive Assessment Battery (SUCCAB). In line with prediction, higher levels of T-C and LDL-c were found to be associated with impaired speeds of response in tasks assessing recognition memory, working memory and inhibitory processing. However, contrary to prediction both TGL and HDL-c were found to be unrelated to cognitive functioning in the current sample. It is suggested that frontal lobe function may be differentially sensitive to the effects of T-C and LDL-c accumulation during the aging process. Future data collection as part of the larger ARCLI intervention study will provide important follow-up data regarding the ability of the baseline blood lipid data to predict subsequent cognitive change.


Cognition Ageing Blood lipids Cholesterol Triglycerides 



The study is funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery grant to Stough, Scholey and Croft, with additional funding to Stough from Horphag, Soho Flordis International-Research and Blackmores. The study was also supported by philanthropic grants from Doug Mitchell and Roderic O’Connor to Stough. Stough was supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery grant. Simpson and Nolidin are recipients of an Australian Government Postgraduate Research Scholarship.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no actual or potential conflict of interests to declare with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Human PsychopharmacologySwinburne University of TechnologyHawthornAustralia

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