School of Medicine Publications and Presentations

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Introduction: This project aimed to investigate the association between biometric components of metabolic syndrome (MetS) with gray matter volume (GMV) obtained with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) from a large cohort of community-based adults (n = 776) subdivided by age and sex and employing brain regions of interest defined previously as the “Neural Signature of MetS” (NS-MetS).

Methods: Lipid profiles, biometrics, and regional brain GMV were obtained from the Genetics of Brain Structure (GOBS) image archive. Participants underwent T1-weighted MR imaging. MetS components (waist circumference, fasting plasma glucose, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, and blood pressure) were defined using the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III. Subjects were grouped by age: early adult (18–25 years), young adult (26–45 years), and middle-aged adult (46–65 years). Linear regression modeling was used to investigate associations between MetS components and GMV in five brain regions comprising the NS-MetS: cerebellum, brainstem, orbitofrontal cortex, right insular/limbic cluster and caudate.

Results: In both men and women of each age group, waist circumference was the single component most strongly correlated with decreased GMV across all NS-MetS regions. The brain region most strongly correlated to all MetS components was the posterior cerebellum.

Conclusion: The posterior cerebellum emerged as the region most significantly associated with MetS individual components, as the only region to show decreased GMV in young adults, and the region with the greatest variance between men and women. We propose that future studies investigating neurological effects of MetS and its comorbidities—namely diabetes and obesity—should consider the NS-MetS and the differential effects of age and sex.


© 2022 Kotkowski, Price, DeFronzo, Franklin, Salazar, Garrett, Woolsey, Blangero, Duggirala, Glahn and Fox.

Publication Title

Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience



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Mentor/PI Department

Office of Human Genetics



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