An investigation into the causes of Alzheimer’s disease has found that a naturally produced hormone which prevents over-eating may also protect against developing the disease.
Scientists from Boston University Medical Centre in the US carried out brain scans on 198 volunteers after measuring their leptin levels to determine the link between high levels of the hormone and the onset of Alzheimer’s.
The findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, revealed that over a 12-year follow-up period, a quarter of those with the lowest levels of leptin developed the disease compared with only 6% of those with the highest levels.
Leptin has been proven to reduce levels of a ‘sticky’ protein deposit known as beta-amyloid, which has been identified as a leading cause of Alzheimer’s.
Study leader Dr Sudha Seshadri, said: “If our findings are confirmed by others, leptin levels in older adults may serve as one of several possible biomarkers for healthy brain ageing and, more importantly, may open new pathways for possible preventive and therapeutic intervention.”
High leptin levels have also been associated with greater total brain volume.
Copyright Press Association 2009