Elevated levels of a certain fat in the blood called ceramides may elevate a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, a US study says. ”Our study identifies this biomarker as a potential new target for treating or preventing Alzheimer’s disease,” said study author, Michelle M. Mielke, epidemiologist with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Mielke was with Johns Hopkins University at the time of his research.
It involved 99 dementia-free women aged between 70 and 79 years, who had their blood tested under the Women’s Health and Aging Study II for levels of ceramides, a fatty compound linked with inflammation and cell death, the journal Neurology reports. The participants were placed into three groups: high, middle and low levels of ceramides. They were then followed for up to nine years. Of the 99 participants, 27 developed dementia and 18 of those were diagnosed with probable Alzheimer’s disease, according to a Johns Hopkins statement.
Women having the highest levels of the biomarker were 10 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than women with the lowest levels. Those with middle levels ceramiides were nearly eight times more likely to develop the disease than those with the lowest levels. ”These findings are important because identifying an accurate biomarker for early Alzheimer’s that requires little cost and inconvenience to a patient could help change our focus from treating the disease to preventing or delaying it,” said Valory Pavlik, neurologist with the Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Centre, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.