Is High Cholesterol Protective Against Parkinson Disease?

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Men with higher levels of total and LDL cholesterol had a decreased risk for Parkinson disease over time.
Men with higher levels of total and LDL cholesterol had a decreased risk for Parkinson disease over time.

In patients who do not take statins, higher levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol decreased the risk of Parkinson disease for men aged 50 to 69 and women aged 70 to 74, according to a study published in Movement Disorders.

Researchers analyzed the data from 261,638 patients' blood serum to establish the relationship between cholesterol levels and Parkinson disease. They took lipid profiles routinely as part of the standard screening and used mean annual levels to establish the cholesterol measurements. Researchers gauged incidence of Parkinson disease using an antiparkinsonian drug tracer algorithm.

The baseline mean age for men was 47.1 years and for women was 45.8 years, with an average follow-up time for the study of 7.9 years. At baseline, total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels were similar for both sexes, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol was lower for men. Men's low-density lipoprotein cholesterol decreased over time (range 3-12 mg/dL per 5 years), and women's decreased for all age groups (range 5-13 mg/dL per 5 years) except 40 to 44 years of age, which increased (1.5 mg/dL per 5 years).

Overall, 0.3% of the patients developed Parkinson disease, with the average age of first treatment for men being 68.7 (±10.8) years and for women being 67.7 (±12.1) years. Among men, a reduced risk for Parkinson disease occurred in the middle and upper tertile of total cholesterol (hazard ratio [HR] 0.82; 95% CI, 0.66-1.01; and HR 0.71; 95% CI, 0.55-0.93, respectively), and in the middle and upper tertiles for low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HR 0.80; 95% CI, 0.65-0.98; and HR 0.72; 95% CI, 0.54-0.95, respectively). Among women, a reduced risk of Parkinson disease occurred in the upper tertile for both total cholesterol (HR 0.38; 95% CI, 0.15-0.93) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HR 0.47; 95% CI, 0.23-0.92) between the ages of 70 and 74 only.

Future research needs to analyze the specific relationship between sex differences and the protective nature of lipid proteins on Parkinson disease, confounding variables that could play a role in this relationship, and a more effective measurement for Parkinson disease diagnosis.

In conclusion, higher levels of total cholesterol (>180 mg/dL) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (>110 mg/dL) could provide protection against the development of Parkinson disease in middle-aged men, and the "potential role of cholesterol in disease protection warrants further investigation."

A researcher was supported by a scholarship from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. Please refer to reference for a complete list of authors' disclosures.

Reference

Rozani V, Gurevich T, Giladi N, et al. Higher serum cholesterol and decreased Parkinson's disease risk: a statin-free cohort study [published online August 25, 2018]. Mov Disord. doi: 10.1002/mds.27413

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