High Total Cholesterol Linked to Decreased Risk of Parkinson’s Disease

cholesterol blood test
cholesterol blood test
Researchers sought to better understand the potential role of cholesterol in the etiology of Parkinson's disease.
The following article is part of live conference coverage from the 2017 International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders (MDS) in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Neurology Advisor’s staff will be reporting breaking news associated with research conducted by leading experts in neurology. Check back for the latest news from MDS 2017.

VANCOUVER — High levels of both total serum cholesterol (TC) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) in men not on statin therapy were associated with a deceased risk of Parkinson’s disease (PD), according to results presented at the 2017 International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders (MDS).

While serum cholesterol plays a well-known role in the etiology of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, its potential role in Parkinson’s is not well understood.

A team of researchers led by Violetta Rozani of Tel Aviv University in Israel conducted a population-based study using data from the Maccabi Healthcare Services database. Data from patients not taking statins who underwent repeated cholesterol assessment over a 13-year period (1999-2012) were used, including mean annual levels of TC, LDL-C, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C). Parkinson’s disease incidence was based on record of anti-parkinsonian drugs, including purchase profiles, age at first purchase, purchase density, and length of follow-up.

The study ultimately included 261,638 patients aged 40 to 79 years at first blood test with 2,093,104 repeated cholesterol measures. Over a mean follow-up of 7.9 years, 764 cases of Parkinson’s disease were identified (0.3% in those aged 40 to 64 years, 3.3% in those aged ≥65 years). In most age groups of men, middle and upper tertiles of both TC and LDL-C were significantly associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease compared with the lowest tertiles. When broken out by age group, the pooled hazard ratios (HR) for TC were 0.91 (95% CI, 0.83-1.04) in the 40- to 64-year group and 0.86 (95% CI, 0.77-0.96) in the ≥65-year group and for LDL-C were 0.90 (95% CI, 0.82-0.99) and 0.86 (95% CI, 0.76-0.97) for the 40- to 64-year and ≥65-year group, respectively. Notably, the associations between TC and LDL-C and Parkinson’s risk were insignificant in women. No association was found between HDL-C and risk of Parkinson’s in either sex.

Overall, “the potential role of serum cholesterol affecting PD etiology or as a marker of incipient [sic] PD warrants further investigation,” the investigators concluded. 

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Rozani V, Gurevich T, Giladi N, et al. Serum cholesterol levels over time and risk of Parkinson’s disease. Presented at: 2017 International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders. June 4-8, 2017; Vancouver, BC, Canada. Abstract 18.