Food and Behaviour Research

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Serum elaidic acid concentration and risk of dementia: The Hisayama study

Honda T, Ohara T, Shinohara M, Hata J, Toh R, Yoshida D, Shibata M, Ishida T, Hirakawa Y, Irino Y, Sakata S, Uchida K, Kitazono T, Kanba S, Hirata KI, Ninomiya T (2019) Neurology.  2019 Oct.  pii: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000008464. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000008464. [Epub ahead of print] 

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The associations between trans fatty acids and dementia have been unclear. We investigated the prospective association between serum elaidic acid (trans 18:1 n-9) levels, as an objective biomarker for industrial trans fat, and incident dementia and its subtypes.


In total, 1,628 Japanese community residents aged 60 and older without dementia were followed prospectively from when they underwent a screening examination in 2002-2003 to November 2012 (median 10.3 years, interquartile range 7.2-10.4 years). Serum elaidic acid levels were measured using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry and divided into quartiles. The Cox proportional hazards model was used to estimate the hazard ratios for all-cause dementia, Alzheimer disease (AD), and vascular dementia by serum elaidic acid levels.


During the follow-up, 377 participants developed some type of dementia (247 AD, 102 vascular dementia). Higher serum elaidic acid levels were significantly associated with greater risk of developing all-cause dementia (p for trend = 0.003) and AD (p for trend = 0.02) after adjustment for traditional risk factors. These associations remained significant after adjustment for dietary factors, including total energy intake and intakes of saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids (both p for trend <0.05). No significant associations were found between serum elaidic acid levels and vascular dementia.


The findings suggest that higher serum elaidic acid is a possible risk factor for the development of all-cause dementia and AD in later life. Public health policy to reduce industrially produced trans fatty acids may assist in the primary prevention of dementia.


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