(HealthDay News) – Older women with high levels of specific serum ceramides have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD), according to a study published online July 18 in Neurology.

Michelle M Mielke, PhD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and colleagues examined whether serum ceramides and sphingomyelins (SMs) correlated with the risk of all-cause dementia and AD in a cohort of 99 women, aged 70–79 years, without dementia, enrolled in a longitudinal population-based study. Participants were followed in six visits over nine years.

The researchers found that 27.3% of the women developed incident dementia, of which 66.7% had probable AD. Elevated baseline serum ceramides correlated with an increased risk of AD, and the association was stronger than that for all-cause dementia. Women in the middle and highest tertiles of ceramide d18:1-C16:0 had a 10-fold and 7.6-fold higher risk of AD, respectively, compared with women in the lowest tertile. The risk of AD was also increased for women in the highest tertile of ceramide d18:1-C24:0 (hazard ratio, 5.1) and lactosylceramide (hazard ratio, 9.8). Baseline SM levels were not associated with an increased risk of all-cause dementia or AD, nor were total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol or triglycerides.

“Results from this preliminary study suggest that particular species of serum ceramides are associated with incident AD and warrant continued examination in larger studies,” Mielke and colleagues conclude.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.


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