Relationship between low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and dementia in the elderly. The InChianti study

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2010 May;65(5):559-64. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glq026. Epub 2010 Mar 18.


Background: To evaluate the association between plasma lipid fractions and the prevalence of dementia in a large sample of Italian older individuals.

Methods: A total of 1051 older community-dwelling individuals (age >/=65 years), enrolled in the InChianti study, were included. Diagnosis of dementia was established at baseline and at the 3-year follow-up using Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (Fourth Edition) criteria. Plasma lipids were measured by standardized methods at baseline and after 3 years.

Results: At baseline, 61 individuals (5.8%) were affected by dementia. Demented individuals showed significantly lower total cholesterol (TC), nonhigh-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels compared with controls; no differences were found in triglycerides (TG) and lipoprotein (a) levels. Of the 819 subjects reevaluated at the 3-year follow-up, 81 (9.9%) received a new diagnosis of dementia. Again, demented subjects were characterized by significantly lower TC, non-HDL-C, and HDL-C levels compared with controls, thus confirming the baseline findings. At multivariate logistic regression analysis, HDL-C levels (odds ratio: 0.96, 95% confidence interval: 0.93-0.99), but not TG and non-HDL-C, were associated with dementia independent of important confounders including age, gender, apo E phenotype, stroke, weight loss, interleukin 6 levels, and ankle-brachial index.

Conclusions: Among community-dwelling older people, individuals affected by dementia showed significantly lower TC, non-HDL-C, and HDL-C levels; however, at multivariate analysis, only HDL-C was associated with dementia. Our results suggest the existence of an independent relationship between dementia and low HDL-C levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ankle Brachial Index
  • Apolipoproteins E / genetics
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood*
  • Dementia / blood*
  • Dementia / epidemiology
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics
  • Prevalence
  • Psychological Tests
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Apolipoproteins E
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol