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Respir Res. 2013 Dec 21;14:140. doi: 10.1186/1465-9921-14-140.

The unique alterations of hippocampus and cognitive impairment in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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Pulmonary Department, First Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University, Hefei, Anhui 230022, China.



Cognitive impairment has been found in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients. However, the structural alteration of the brain and underlying mechanisms are poorly understood.


Thirty-seven mild-to-moderate COPD patients, forty-eight severe COPD patients, and thirty-one control subjects were recruited for cognitive test and neuroimaging studies. Serum levels of S100B,pulmonary function and arterial blood gas levels were also evaluated in each subject.


The hippocampal volume was significantly smaller in COPD patients compared to the control group. It is positively correlated with a mini mental state examination (MMSE) score, SaO2 in mild-to-moderate COPD patients, the levels of PaO2 in both mild-to-moderate and severe COPD patients. Higher S100B concentrations were observed in mild-to-moderate COPD patients, while the highest S100B level was found in severe COPD patients when compared to the control subjects. S100B levels are negatively associated with MMSE in both mild-to-moderate and severe COPD patients and also negatively associated with the hippocampal volume in the total COPD patients.


Hippocampal atrophy based on quantitative assessment by magnetic resonance imaging does occur in COPD patients, which may be associated with cognitive dysfunction and the most prevalent mechanism accountable for hippocampal atrophy is chronic hypoxemia in COPD. Higher serum S100B levels may be peripheral biochemical marker for cognitive impairment in COPD.

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