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Serum lipids and memory in a population based cohort of middle age women
  1. V W Henderson1,
  2. J R Guthrie2,
  3. L Dennerstein2
  1. 1Departments of Geriatrics, Neurology, Pharmacology & Toxicology, and Epidemiology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA
  2. 2Office for Gender and Health, Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia
  1. Correspondence to:
 V W Henderson, Donald W Reynolds Center on Aging, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, 4301 W. Markham Street, # 810, Little Rock, Arkansas 72205 USA;


Objective:To assess the relation between serum lipids and memory in a healthy middle age cohort of women.

Methods: For 326 women in the Melbourne Women’s Midlife Health Project aged 52–63 years, serum lipids were measured annually, and memory was assessed during the eighth annual visit.

Results:There was a small but significant association between current low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) concentrations and memory; for total cholesterol (TC) the association approached significance. Better memory was associated with positive changes in TC and LDL-C based on lipid measurements three years, but not six years, earlier. Memory performance was lowest among women in the lowest quartile of current LDL-C values and among women whose LDL-C levels declined over the previous three years. High density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and triglyceride concentrations were unassociated with memory. The association between memory and TC and LDL-C was primarily related to immediate recall and not delayed recall performance on the word list task. Low cholesterol has been linked with depression, but lipid measures and self-rated mood were unrelated.

Conclusions:Higher serum concentrations of LDL-C, and relatively recent increases in TC and LDL-C concentrations, are associated with better memory in healthy middle age women. Possible cognitive effects of cholesterol reduction should be considered in future studies of lipid lowering agents.

  • cholesterol
  • cognition
  • lipids
  • memory
  • mood
  • TC, total cholesterol
  • LDL-C, low density lipoprotein cholesterol
  • HDL-C, high density lipoprotein cholesterol
  • MWMHP, Melbourne Women’s Midlife Health Project

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  • Portions of this research were conducted while the first author was Visiting Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, and the Kearney Visiting Professor at the Mental Health Research Institute of Victoria

  • Competing interest: LD has received a grant in aid from Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. VWH and JRG have no competing interests to declare