On February 25, the Keck School of Medicine of USC shared details on an ongoing study led by researcher Hussein Yassine, MD, an endocrinologist who treats patients with diabetes and lipid disorders at Keck Medicine. The results of his study have now been published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, and they show promising implications.

Yassine and his team took samples of cerebrospinal fluid from people aged 60 and older and measured the amount of small HDL particles in each sample. The researchers determined that a higher number of these particles in the fluid indicate a protective effect against Alzheimer’s disease.

One determinant was the subjects’ performances on cognitive tests. Another factor was higher circulating levels in the cerebrospinal fluid of a particular peptide called amyloid beta 42. Although that peptide contributes to Alzheimer’s disease when it misfolds and clumps onto neurons, an increased concentration circulating around the brain and spine is actually linked to lower risk for the disease.

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