Obesity as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease: the role of adipocytokines

Abstract

Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia and the most prevalent neurodegenerative disease. It is an aging-related multi-factorial disorder and growing evidence support the contribution of metabolic factors to what was formerly thought to be a centrally mediated process. Obesity has already been recognized as an important player in the pathogenesis of this type of dementia, independently of insulin resistance or other vascular risk factors. Although the exact underlying mechanisms are still unknown, adipocyte dysfunction and concomitant alteration in adipocyte-derived protein secretion seem to be involved, since these adipocytokines can cross the blood–brain barrier and influence cognitive-related structures. Very few studies have assessed the role of adipocytokines dysfunction on cognitive impaired patients and yielded contradictory results. Interestingly, extensive research on the central effects of leptin in Alzheimer’s disease-transgenic mice has demonstrated its capacity to enhance synaptic plasticity and strength, as well as to prevent beta-amyloid deposition and tau phosphorylation. In addition, adiponectin, the most abundant adipocytokine whose levels are inversely correlated to adiposity, has shown to be neuroprotective to hippocampal cells. Many other adipose-derived cytokines have mainly pro-inflammatory properties, being able to trigger and/or enhance central inflammatory cascades and also to influence the secretion of other adipocytokines involved in cognition. This paper pretends to review the existing evidence on the contribution of adipocytokines dysfunction to the increased risk of dementia associated with mid-life obesity, unraveling its insulin-independent effects on cognition.

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Correspondence to Liliana Letra.

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Letra, L., Santana, I. & Seiça, R. Obesity as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease: the role of adipocytokines. Metab Brain Dis 29, 563–568 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11011-014-9501-z

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Keywords

  • Obesity
  • Adiposity
  • Adipocytokines
  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s disease