Unfavourable gender effect of high body mass index on brain metabolism and connectivity

Maura Malpetti, Arianna Sala, Emilia Giovanna Vanoli, Luigi Gianolli, Livio Luzi, Daniela Perani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The influence of Body Mass Index (BMI) on neurodegeneration in dementia has yet to be elucidated. We aimed at exploring the effects of BMI levels on cerebral resting-state metabolism and brain connectivity, as crucial measures of synaptic function and activity, in a large group of patients with Alzheimer’s Dementia (AD) (n = 206), considering gender. We tested the correlation between BMI levels and brain metabolism, as assessed by 18F-FDG-PET, and the modulation of the resting-state functional networks by BMI. At comparable dementia severity, females with high BMI can withstand a lower degree of brain metabolism dysfunction, as shown by a significant BMI-brain metabolism correlation in the temporal-parietal regions, which are typically vulnerable to AD pathology (R = 0.269, p = 0.009). Of note, high BMI was also associated with reduced connectivity in frontal and limbic brain networks, again only in AD females (p < 0.05 FDR-corrected, k = 100 voxels). This suggests a major vulnerability of neural systems known to be selectively involved in brain compensatory mechanisms in AD females. These findings indicate a strong gender effect of high BMI and obesity in AD, namely reducing the available reserve mechanisms in female patients. This brings to considerations for medical practice and health policy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12584
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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