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J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;30 Suppl 2:S5-13. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2011-110899.

Metabolic reserve as a determinant of cognitive aging.

Author information

  • 1Physiology Department, Georgia Health Sciences University, Augusta, Georgia, GA 30912, USA. astranahan@georgiahealth.edu

Abstract

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) represent points on a continuum of cognitive performance in aged populations. Cognition may be impaired or preserved in the context of brain aging. One theory to account for memory maintenance in the context of extensive pathology involves 'cognitive reserve', or the ability to compensate for neuropathology through greater recruitment of remaining neurons. In this review, we propose a complementary hypothesis of 'metabolic reserve', where a brain with high metabolic reserve is characterized by the presence of neuronal circuits that respond adaptively to perturbations in cellular and somatic energy metabolism and thereby protects against declining cognition. Lifestyle determinants of metabolic reserve, such as exercise, reduced caloric intake, and intake of specific dietary components can promote neuroprotection, while pathological states arising from sedentary lifestyles and excessive caloric intake contribute to neuronal endangerment. This bidirectional relationship between metabolism and cognition may be mediated by alterations in central insulin and neurotrophic factor signaling and glucose metabolism, with downstream consequences for accumulation of amyloid-β and hyperphosphorylated tau. The metabolic reserve hypothesis is supported by epidemiological findings and the spectrum of individual cognitive trajectories during aging, with additional data from animal models identifying potential mechanisms for this relationship. Identification of biomarkers for metabolic reserve could assist in generating a predictive model for the likelihood of cognitive decline with aging.

PMID:
22045480
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC4445414
Free PMC Article
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