Body mass and cognitive decline are indirectly associated via inflammation among aging adults

Kyle Bourassa, David A. Sbarra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Inflammatory models of neurodegeneration suggest that higher circulating levels of inflammation can lead to cognitive decline. Despite established independent associations between greater body mass, increased inflammation, and cognitive decline, no prior research has explored whether markers of systemic inflammation might mediate the association between body mass and changes in cognitive functioning. To test such a model, we used two longitudinal subsamples (ns = 9066; 12,561) of aging adults from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) study, which included two cognitive measures components of memory and executive functioning, as well as measurements of body mass and systemic inflammation, assessed via C-reactive protein (CRP). Greater body mass was indirectly associated with declines in memory and executive functioning over 6 years via relatively higher levels of CRP. Our results suggest that systemic inflammation is one biologically plausible mechanism through which differences in body mass might influence changes in cognitive functioning among aging adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-70
Number of pages8
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Body mass
  • C-reactive protein
  • Cognition
  • Executive functioning
  • Inflammation
  • Memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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