Mediterranean diet and preserved brain structural connectivity in older subjects

Alzheimers Dement. 2015 Sep;11(9):1023-31. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2015.06.1888. Epub 2015 Jul 17.


Introduction: The Mediterranean diet (MeDi) has been related to a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease; yet, the underlying mechanisms are unknown. We hypothesized that protection against neurodegeneration would translate into higher gray matter volumes, whereas a specific association with preserved white matter microstructure would suggest alternative mechanisms (e.g., vascular pathways).

Methods: We included 146 participants from the Bordeaux Three-City study nondemented when they completed a dietary questionnaire and who underwent a 3-T magnetic resonance imaging at an average of 9 years later, including diffusion tensor imaging.

Results: In multivariate voxel-by-voxel analyses, adherence to the MeDi was significantly associated with preserved white matter microstructure in extensive areas, a gain in structural connectivity that was related to strong cognitive benefits. In contrast, we found no relation with gray matter volumes.

Discussion: The MeDi appears to benefit brain health through preservation of structural connectivity. Potential mediation by a favorable impact on brain vasculature deserves further research.

Keywords: Diffusion tensor imaging; Mediterranean diet; Neuroimaging; Prospective studies; Risk factors in epidemiology; Voxel-based morphometry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Diet Surveys
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Patient Compliance
  • Prospective Studies