Dysregulation of the immune system and dietary patterns that increase inflammation can increase the risk for cognitive decline, but the mechanisms involved are not well understood. A team from the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore used the Olink® Target 96 Immune Response & Inflammation panels to measure plasma proteins in ~1500 women from the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS) to investigate whether proteins linked to a pro-inflammatory diet could serve as predictive markers for cognitive decline, with blood taken at baseline and clinical follow-up spanning over 14 years.
Overall, 52 proteins were associated with cognitive decline scoring and of these, CXCL10, CCL3, HGF, OPG, CDCP1, NFATC3, ITGA11 remained significantly associated with increased odds of incident cognitive impairment after adjusting for demographic covariates. Several of these proteins were also correlated with plasma biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease pathology (Aβ42/40) and/or neurodegeneration (NfL) in additional external cohorts. By cross-referencing available RNAseq data from previously published work, they also saw that at least five of the seven inflammatory diet proteins identified in plasma and linked to cognitive impairment may be differentially expressed in the brains of individuals at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.