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Recent research has examined the relationship between body fat, sarcopenia, inflammation, and brain health in older adults. Findings indicate that maintaining a healthy fat percentage and muscle strength could be important for supporting cognitive health and preventing cognitive decline.

  • Obesity and sarcopenia are associated with cognitive impairments in older age.
  • Body fat and components of sarcopenia show a connection with brain volume and neurometabolism.
  • Muscle strength, rather than muscle mass or physical performance, is linked to healthier brain neurometabolism.
  • The study does not find significant mediating effects from inflammatory and neurotrophic blood biomarkers.

Obesity and sarcopenia, or age-related muscle loss, are major contributors to cognitive decline in older individuals. A new study published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging sought to investigate the relationship between body fat percentage, components of sarcopenia, inflammation, and brain health in older adults.

Assessing the Body–Brain Connection Using a Multimodal Approach

The study used a multimodal approach involving a bio-impedance body composition analysis, strength measurements, cognitive assessment, blood analysis, and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The aim was to gain a holistic understanding of how obesity and sarcopenia might impact brain health and cognition.

Sarcopenia, Body Fat, and Their Impact on Brain Health

In the assessment of body composition and muscular fitness, the study found a nuanced relationship with brain volume and neurometabolism. The results showed that a higher body fat percentage was associated with lower total gray matter volume and certain regional brain volumes. However, muscle strength, as opposed to muscle mass or physical performance, corresponded to healthier neurometabolism in certain brain regions.

Translating Findings to Clinical Practice

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From a clinical perspective, the results suggest the importance of maintaining a healthy body fat percentage and muscle strength in older adults to support brain health and prevent cognitive decline. These findings may provide clinicians with practical considerations for care strategies targeted at older patients, such as maintaining a healthy body fat percentage and muscle strength throughout life.

Moreover, this research invites future studies to investigate the role of serum kynurenine and other inflammatory blood biomarkers as possible mediators of muscle strength decline and neurodegeneration in older adults.

Source:

Vints, W. a. J., Kušleikienė, S., Sheoran, S., Valatkevičienė, K., Gleiznienė, R., Himmelreich, U., Pääsuke, M., Česnaitienė, V. J., Levin, O., Verbunt, J., & Masiulis, N. (2023). Body fat and components of sarcopenia relate to inflammation, brain volume, and neurometabolism in older adults. Neurobiology of Aging, 127, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2023.02.011