Brain γ-Tocopherol Levels Are Associated with Presynaptic Protein Levels in Elderly Human Midfrontal Cortex

Francisca A. de Leeuw, William G. Honer, Julie A. Schneider, Martha Clare Morris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Higher vitamin E intake has been widely related to lower risks of cognitive decline and dementia. Animal models suggest that this relationship might be (partially) explained by the protection of vitamin E against presynaptic protein oxidation. Objective: In this cross-sectional study, we aimed to examine the associations between brain tocopherols and presynaptic protein levels in elderly humans. Methods: We examined associations of α- and γ-tocopherol brain levels with presynaptic protein levels in 113 deceased participants (age 88.5±6.0 years, 45 (40%) female) from the prospective Memory and Aging project. Three distinct presynaptic proteins, a SNARE protein composite, a synaptotagmin synaptophysin composite and the protein-protein interaction between synaptosomal-associated protein 25 (SNAP-25), and syntaxin were measured in two cortical brain regions. Linear regression models assessed associations of brain tocopherols with presynaptic protein levels. Results: Higher brain γ-tocopherol levels were associated with higher levels of the SNARE protein composite, complexin-I, complexin-II, the synaptotagmin synaptophysin composite, and septin-5 in the midfrontal cortex (B(SE) = 0.272 to 0.412 (0.084 to 0.091), p < 0.001 to 0.003). When additionally adjusted for global Alzheimer's disease pathology, cerebral infarcts, and Lewy body disease pathology, these associations remained largely similar. No associations were found between α-tocopherol and presynaptic protein levels. Conclusion: In this cross-sectional study, we found higher brain γ-tocopherol levels were associated with presynaptic protein levels in the midfrontal cortex. These results are consistent with a proposed role of vitamin E to maintain presynaptic protein levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-627
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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