A growing body of evidence indicates that biomarkers of cardiovascular risk may be related to cerebral health. However, little is known about the role that non-fasting lipoproteins play in assessing age-related declines in a cerebral biomarker sensitive to vascular compromise, white matter (WM) microstructure. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) is atheroprotective and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) is a major atherogenic lipoprotein. This study explored the relationships between non-fasting levels of cholesterol and WM microstructure in healthy older adults. A voxelwise and region of interest approach was used to determine the relationship between cholesterol and fractional anisotropy (FA). Participants included 87 older adults between the ages of 59 and 77 (mean age = 65.5 years, SD = 3.9). Results indicated that higher HDL-C was associated with higher FA in diffuse regions of the brain when controlling for age, sex, and body mass index (BMI). HDL-C was also positively associated with FA in the corpus callosum and fornix. No relationship was observed between LDL-C and FA. Findings suggest that a modifiable lifestyle variable associated with cardiovascular health may help to preserve cerebral WM.

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Published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, v. 11, article 100, p. 1-9.

Copyright © 2019 Johnson, Gold, Ross, Bailey, Clasey, Gupta, Leung and Powell.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health CTSA UL1TR000117 and R01 AG055449, the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, and the University of Kentucky’s Clinical Services Core (CSC).