Lifestyle Changes Could Slow Free Radical Injury in Brain

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Modifications to lifestyle attributes like smoking and high body mass index may be more effective in suppressing free radical injury to the brain, according to a study published in JAMA Neurology.

As part of The Healthy Brain Initiative 2013-2018, which aims to improve brain health with age, researchers sought to identify modifiable risk factors of brain oxidative stress by assessing the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) F2-isoprostane (F2-IsoP) concentrations of 320 medically healthy and cognitively normal adults, aged 21 to 100 years.

Key findings include:

  • F2-IsoP concentrations increased with age by about 10% in subjects aged 45 to 71 years (P<0.001)
  • F2-IsoP concentrations increased more than 10% for every 5-U increase in body mass index (P<0.001)
  • Current smoking was indicative of a 3-fold greater effect on F2-IsoP levels compared with age (P<0.001)
  • Mean CSF F2-IsoP concentrations were higher in women than men at all ages after adjusting for other factors (P=0.02)


Conversely, having CSF biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease and inheritance of the APOE e4 allele had no association with F2-IsoP concentration in the study group.

The results support the recognized age-related increase in free radical injury to the brain, but also suggest that women are at a greater risk for this injury than men. The results also identify two lifestyle modifications—smoking and body mass index—that could be more effective in suppressing free radical injury to the brain than slowing the aging process itself.

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Lifestyle Modifications Could Affect Free Radical Injury in Brain

This study, as part of The Healthy Brain Initiative 2013-2018, explores free radical damage to the brain and identifies lifestyle risk factors that could increase brain injury over time. 

Elaine R. Peskind, MD, of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington, in Seattle, and colleagues sought to identify potentially modifiable risk factors associated with increased markers of brain oxidative stress.

The cross-sectional, academic multicenter study consisted of 320 research volunteers (172 women) aged 21 to 100 years who were medically healthy and cognitively normal.

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