Alzheimer disease biomarkers are associated with body mass index

Neurology. 2011 Nov 22;77(21):1913-20. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e318238eec1.


Objective: Both low and high body mass index (BMI) has been associated with cognitive impairment and dementia risk, including Alzheimer disease (AD). We examined the relationship of BMI with potential underlying biological substrates for cognitive impairment.

Methods: We analyzed cross-sectional data from participants enrolled in the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) with PET imaging using Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB, n = 101) or CSF analyses (n = 405) for β-amyloid peptide (Aβ) and total tau. We assessed the relationship of CSF biomarkers and global PiB uptake with BMI using linear regression controlling for age and sex. We also assessed BMI differences between those who were and were not considered biomarker positive. Finally, we assessed BMI change over 2 years in relationship to AD biomarkers.

Results: No dementia, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and AD groups were not different in age, education, or BMI. In the overall sample, CSF Aβ (β = 0.181, p < 0.001), tau (β = -0.179, p < 0.001), tau/Aβ ratio (β = -0.180, p < 0.001), and global PiB uptake (β = -0.272, p = 0.005) were associated with BMI, with markers of increased AD burden associated with lower BMI. Fewer overweight individuals had biomarker levels indicative of pathophysiology (p < 0.01). These relationships were strongest in the MCI and no dementia groups.

Conclusions: The presence and burden of in vivo biomarkers of cerebral amyloid and tau are associated with lower BMI in cognitively normal and MCI individuals. This supports previous findings of systemic change in the earliest phases of the disease. Further, MCI in those who are overweight may be more likely to result from heterogeneous pathophysiology.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Aniline Compounds
  • Biomarkers / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnostic imaging
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / pathology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Overweight / complications
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Thiazoles
  • tau Proteins / cerebrospinal fluid*


  • 2-(4'-(methylamino)phenyl)-6-hydroxybenzothiazole
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Aniline Compounds
  • Biomarkers
  • Thiazoles
  • tau Proteins