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C-Reactive Protein Linked to Cognition in Older Adults

Last Updated: March 30, 2010.

Low-grade inflammation, as measured by high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, is associated with cerebral microstructural disintegration and poorer performance in executive function in older adults, according to research published in the March 30 issue of Neurology.

TUESDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- Low-grade inflammation, as measured by high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), is associated with cerebral microstructural disintegration and poorer performance in executive function in older adults, according to research published in the March 30 issue of Neurology.

Heike Wersching, M.D., of the University of Münster in Germany, and colleagues analyzed data from 447 individuals (mean age, 63 years) who provided a blood sample and underwent neuropsychological assessment. All were stroke-free. Of these, 321 also underwent high-field magnetic resonance imaging.

After adjustment for a variety of factors, including age and cardiovascular risk factors, the researchers found that higher levels of hs-CRP were associated with poorer performance in executive function. Higher levels of hs-CRP were also associated with lower global fractional anisotropy and regional fractional anisotropy scores of the corpus callosum, frontal lobes, and corona radiata. However, hs-CRP was not linked to white matter hyperintensity or brain atrophy.

"Recent interventional studies using anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and statins to lower circulating CRP levels showed a significant reduction in the incidence of cardiovascular events. There is also evidence of a beneficial effect of lifestyle interventions on cognitive functions, such as physical activity and body weight control, which have been shown to decrease circulating CRP levels. Whether lowering of CRP can also prevent cognitive decline and/or microstructural white matter alterations needs to be addressed in upcoming clinical trials," the authors conclude.

Several co-authors reported financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies and publications.

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