MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?
Dr. Reed: We found that high LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol in blood were both associated with higher amyloid deposition in the brain. This is potentially very important because the deposition of amyloid seems to be a critical step that kicks off a whole chain of events that eventually lead to Alzheimer’s disease. It is widely believed (although not proven) that if this deposition of amyloid could be blocked that we could greatly decrease the incidence of Alzheimer’s. The connection to cholesterol is exciting because we know a fair amount about how to change cholesterol levels. A great deal more research needs to be done, but this does suggest a potential new path toward trying to prevent AD.
MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Dr. Reed: People had looked before at total cholesterol levels and amyloid and had not found any relationship (nor did we). What we did differently was to look at the different types of cholesterol (HDL, LDL) and that is where we found a pattern. An interesting thing about this is that the pattern we found is the same pattern that has been observed between cholesterol and heart disease.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Reed: First, understand that our findings need to be confirmed and that much research needs to be done to tease out exactly what is going on here. In the meantime, this is another reason to really pay attention to cholesterol levels. Try to get the LDL levels down, and the HDL levels up.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Reed: We need to replicate our basic findings in a larger group. But the really interesting work will be on basic biological mechanisms by which cholesterol might change amyloid levels. That work could lead to new approaches to heading off Alzheimer‘s before it starts.