Low-Density Lipoproteins May Affect Cognitive Function

by Sahil Rawal (’19)

Fig. 1: Low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) are harmful proteins that play a role in causing heart attacks and strokes.

Cholesterol is a lipid in our body that is necessary for proper functioning. However, low-density lipoproteins, also known as LDLs, are a type of harmful cholesterol that can build up and cause problems in arteries, which can lead to heart attacks or strokes. Although there is an abundance of information about the harmful effects of LDLs, there is an ambiguity of how it affects cognitive function.

To investigate this, Dr. Roelof Smit and a team of researchers from the Leiden University Medical Center looked at the fluctuation of LDL cholesterol in comparison with cognitive function. For the study, the team assessed whether or not LDL fluctuations in 4428 participants from ages 70 to 82 had an effect on cognitive function. The participants were given a picture-word memory test that assessed both immediate and delayed recall of pictures. The results showed that people with high fluctuations needed 2.7 more seconds to answer the questions compared to those who had low fluctuations. Furthermore, their results showed that high fluctuations of LDL were correlated with lower cerebral blood flow and higher amounts of white matter load. Although this just shows a correlation between the two factors, it may have a large significance for future studies.



  1. A. J. Smit, et al., Higher visit-to-visit low-density lipoprotein cholesterol variability is associated with lower cognitive performance, lower cerebral blood flow, and greater white matter hyperintensity load in older subjects. Circulation­ 134 (2016). doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.115.020627.
  2. Image Retrieved from: https://www.google.com/search?q=ldl&espv=2&biw=1440&bih=829&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjS88WT3YDOAhUK1x4KHVfNAA0Q_AUIBigB#imgrc=as8uYa-SDWHnXM%3A

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