Good Cholesterol May Decrease Alzheimer’s Risk

Brain autopsy studies have long demonstrated the accumulation of lipid droplets in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), starting with AloisAlzheimer’s initial description of “adipose saccules” in the brain in 1907.

There are reports that lower plasma HDL cholesterol (HDL-C) levels are associated with increased severity of AD, and conversely that higher HDL-C levels are associated with better cognitive function. 

In a recent study published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, researchers have studied the connection between HDL or good cholesterol in the cerebrospinal fluid and the risk of AD. 

HDL cholesterol helps to carry cholesterol back to the liver so that the liver can break it down. Researchers are still trying to understand how HDL levels affect the brain.

Their results suggest that higher levels of small HDL were associated with a lower risk of developing AD. 

Study Development and Results 

The study included a total of 180 participants aged 60 or older. Cognitive function was addressed through a variety of cognitive tests, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and plasma samples were obtained from the participants. 

The researchers found that small HDL particles in the CSF were positively associated with better performance in cognitive function before the onset of dementia, independent of age, sex, education, and APOE genotype. APOE is a major genetic risk factor for late-onset AD. 

The team also found that there was a significant correlation between the levels of HDL in the CSF and the plasma. 


Ashley E. Martinez, et al. The small HDL particle hypothesis of Alzheimer’s disease. 2022. Alzheimer’s Dement. DOI:10.1002/alz.12649 

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