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Muscle Adiposity Tied to Cognitive Decline

Five-year increase in fat stored in the thigh muscle tied to cognitive decline in older men, women

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, June 9, 2023 (HealthDay News) — An increase in skeletal muscular adiposity is associated with cognitive decline among older men and women, according to a study published online June 7 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Caterina Rosano, M.D., from the School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues assessed the relationship between adiposity infiltrating skeletal muscles and dementia. The analysis included 1,634 adults (aged 69 to 79 years) with thigh intermuscular adipose tissue (IMAT) measurements via computerized tomography at years 1 and 6 and a mini-mental state exam (3MS) at years 1, 3, 5, 8 and 10.

The researchers found that the association of IMAT increase with 3MS decline was statistically significant, with an IMAT increase of 4.85 cm² corresponding to a 3MS decline of an additional 3.60 points, yielding a clinically important change. There were no significant interactions observed by race or sex.

“Increasing adiposity in skeletal muscles predicts cognitive decline, independent of overall adiposity or muscle health, and irrespective of demographic factors,” the authors write. “Clinicians should be aware that regional adiposity accumulating in the skeletal muscle may be an important, novel risk factor for cognitive decline in Black and White participants independent of changes to muscle strength, body composition, and traditional dementia risk factors.”

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