Brain tocopherol levels are associated with lower activated microglia density in elderly human cortex

Francisca A. de Leeuw*, Julie A. Schneider, Sonal Agrawal, Sue E. Leurgans, Martha Clare Morris

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction: Higher brain tocopherol levels have been associated with lower levels of Alzheimer's disease (AD) neuropathology; however, the underlying mechanisms are unclear. Methods: We studied the relations of α- and γ-tocopherol brain levels to microglia density in 113 deceased participants from the Memory and Aging Project. We used linear regression analyses to examine associations between tocopherol levels and microglia densities in a basic model adjusted for age, sex, education, apolipoprotein E (APOE)ε4 genotype (any ε4 allele vs. none), and post-mortem time interval, and a second model additionally adjusted for total amyloid load and neurofibrillary tangle severity. Results: Higher α- and γ-tocopherol levels were associated with lower total and activated microglia density in cortical but not in subcortical brain regions. The association between cortical α-tocopherol and total microglia density remained statistically significant after adjusting for AD neuropathology. Discussion: These results suggest that the relation between tocopherols and AD might be partly explained by the alleviating effects of tocopherols on microglia activation.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12021
JournalAlzheimer's and Dementia: Translational Research and Clinical Interventions
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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