Body mass index and two-year change of in vivo Alzheimer’s disease pathologies in cognitively normal older adults

BACKGROUND: Low body mass index (BMI) or underweight status in late life is associated with an increased risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, the relationship between late-life BMI and prospective longitudinal changes of in-vivo AD pathology has not been investigated.
METHODS: This prospective longitudinal study was conducted as part of the Korean Brain Aging Study for Early Diagnosis and Prediction of Alzheimer’s Disease (KBASE). A total of 194 cognitive normal older adults were included in the analysis. BMI at baseline was measured, and two-year changes in brain Aβ and tau deposition on PET imaging were used as the main outcomes. Linear mixed-effects (LME) models were used to examine the relationships between late-life BMI and longitudinal change in AD neuropathological biomarkers.
RESULTS: A lower BMI at baseline was significantly associated with a greater increase in tau deposition in AD-signature region over 2 years (β, -0.018; 95% CI, -0.028 to -0.004; p = .008), In contrast, BMI was not related to two-year changes in global Aβ deposition (β, 0.0002; 95% CI, -0.003 to 0.002, p = .671). An additional exploratory analysis for each sex showed lower baseline BMI was associated with greater increases in tau deposition in males (β, -0.027; 95% CI, -0.046 to -0.009; p = 0.007), but not in females.
DISCUSSION: The findings suggest that lower BMI in late-life may predict or contribute to the progression of tau pathology over the subsequent years in cognitively unimpaired older adults.