C-reactive protein (CRP), a systemic marker of inflammation, is a risk factor for late life cognitive impairment and dementia, yet the mechanisms that link elevated CRP to cognitive decline are not fully understood. In this study we examined the relationship between CRP and markers of neuronal integrity and cerebral metabolism in middle-aged adults with intact cognitive function, using proton magnetic resonance spectrocospy. We hypothesized that increased levels of circulating CRP would correlate with changes in brain metabolites indicative of early brain vulnerability. Thirty-six individuals, aged 40 to 60, underwent neuropsychological assessment, a blood draw for CRP quantification, and 1H MRS examining N-acetyl-aspartate, myo-inositol, creatine, choline, and glutamate concentrations in occipito-parietal grey matter. Independent of age, sex and education, serum CRP was significantly related to higher cerebral myo-inositol/creatine ratio (F (4,31) = 4.74, P = 0.004), a relationship which remained unchanged after adjustment for cardiovascular risk (F (5,30) = 4.356, CRP β = 0.322, P = 0.045). Because these biomarkers are detectable in midlife they may serve as useful indicators of brain vulnerability during the preclinical period when mitigating intervention is still possible.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Psychiatry and Mental health