Association of Hypercholesterolemia with Alzheimer's Disease Pathology and Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy

Chenjia Xu, Liana G. Apostolova, Adrian L. Oblak, Sujuan Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Animal studies have shown that diet-induced hypercholesterolemia (HC) increases amyloid-β (Aβ) accumulation and accelerates Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology. However, the association of HC with AD in human studies has not been consistently established. Objective: We aimed to investigate the relationship between HC and risk of AD neuropathology in a large national sample with autopsies. Methods: This study used neuropathological and clinical data from 3,508 subjects from the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center (NACC) who underwent autopsies from 2005 to 2017. Demographic and clinical characteristics, as well as neuropathological outcomes were compared between subjects with and without HC. Associations between HC and AD neuropathology were examined by multivariate ordinal logistic regressions adjusting for potential confounders. Results: HC was not associated with any AD neuropathology in a model only adjusting for demographic variables. However, HC was significantly associated with higher CERAD neuritic and diffuse plaque burden, higher Braak stage, and more severe cerebral amyloid angiopathy when analyzed in a multivariate model controlling for comorbidities. Additional adjusting for cerebrovascular conditions did not diminish these associations. The association between HC and increased risk of neuritic plaques weakened but remained significant even after controlling for ApoE genotype. Conclusion: This study suggested that HC was associated with increased severity of AD pathology, which could only be partially accounted for by ApoE genotype. The associations were not mediated by cerebrovascular conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1305-1311
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • ApoE genotype
  • cerebral amyloid angiopathy
  • hypercholesterolemia
  • neuropathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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