Cardio-metabolic risk factors and cortical thickness in a neurologically healthy male population: Results from the psychological, social and biological determinants of ill health (pSoBid) study.
INTRODUCTION: Cardio-metabolic risk factors have been associated with poor physical and mental health. Epidemiological studies have shown peripheral risk markers to be associated with poor cognitive functioning in normal healthy population and in disease. The aim of the study was to explore the relationship between cardio-metabolic risk factors and cortical thickness in a neurologically healthy middle aged population-based sample. METHODS: T1-weighted MRI was used to create models of the cortex for calculation of regional cortical thickness in 40 adult males (average age = 50.96 years), selected from the pSoBid study. The relationship between cardio-vascular risk markers and cortical thickness across the whole brain, was examined using the general linear model. The relationship with various covariates of interest was explored. RESULTS: Lipid fractions with greater triglyceride content (TAG, VLDL and LDL) were associated with greater cortical thickness pertaining to a number of regions in the brain. Greater C reactive protein (CRP) and intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM-1) levels were associated with cortical thinning pertaining to perisylvian regions in the left hemisphere. Smoking status and education status were significant covariates in the model. CONCLUSIONS: This exploratory study adds to a small body of existing literature increasingly showing a relationship between cardio-metabolic risk markers and regional cortical thickness involving a number of regions in the brain in a neurologically normal middle aged sample. A focused investigation of factors determining the inter-individual variations in regional cortical thickness in the adult brain could provide further clarity in our understanding of the relationship between cardio-metabolic factors and cortical structures.