Serum neuron-specific enolase (sNSE) is considered a marker for neuronal damage, related to gray matter structures. Previous studies indicated its potential as marker for structural and functional damage in conditions with adverse effects to the brain like obesity and dementia. In the present study, we investigated the putative association between sNSE levels, body mass index (BMI), total gray matter volume (GMV), and magnetic resonance imaging-based indices of aging as well as Alzheimer's disease (AD)-like patterns. Subjects/Methods: sNSE was determined in 901 subjects (499 women, 22-81 years, BMI 18-48 kg/m2), participating in a population-based study (SHIP-TREND). We report age-specific patterns of sNSE levels between males and females. Females showed augmenting, males decreasing sNSE levels associated with age (males: p = 0.1052, females: p = 0.0363). sNSE levels and BMI were non-linearly associated, showing a parabolic association and decreasing sNSE levels at BMI values >25 (p = 0.0056). In contrast to our hypotheses, sNSE levels were not associated with total GMV, aging, or AD-like patterns. Pathomechanisms discussed are: sex-specific hormonal differences, neuronal damage/differentiation, or impaired cerebral glucose metabolism. We assume a sex-dependence of age-related effects to the brain. Further, we propose in accordance to previous studies an actual neuronal damage in the early stages of obesity. However, with progression of overweight, we assume more profound effects of excess body fat to the brain.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Biological Psychiatry