VANCOUVER — High levels of both total serum cholesterol (TC) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) in men not on statin therapy were associated with a decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease (PD), according to results presented at the 2017 International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders (MDS).

While serum cholesterol plays a well-known role in the etiology of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, its potential role in Parkinson’s is not well understood.

A team of researchers led by Violetta Rozani of Tel Aviv University in Israel conducted a population-based study using data from the Maccabi Healthcare Services database. Data from patients not taking statins who underwent repeated cholesterol assessment over a 13-year period (1999-2012) were used, including mean annual levels of TC, LDL-C, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C). Parkinson’s disease incidence was based on record of anti-parkinsonian drugs, including purchase profiles, age at first purchase, purchase density, and length of follow-up.

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The study ultimately included 261,638 patients aged 40 to 79 years at first blood test with 2,093,104 repeated cholesterol measures. Over a mean follow-up of 7.9 years, 764 cases of Parkinson’s disease were identified (0.3% in those aged 40 to 64 years, 3.3% in those aged ≥65 years). In most age groups of men, middle and upper tertiles of both TC and LDL-C were significantly associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease compared with the lowest tertiles. When broken out by age group, the pooled hazard ratios (HR) for TC were 0.91 (95% CI, 0.83-1.04) in the 40- to 64-year group and 0.86 (95% CI, 0.77-0.96) in the ≥65-year group and for LDL-C were 0.90 (95% CI, 0.82-0.99) and 0.86 (95% CI, 0.76-0.97) for the 40- to 64-year and ≥65-year group, respectively. Notably, the associations between TC and LDL-C and Parkinson’s risk were insignificant in women. No association was found between HDL-C and risk of Parkinson’s in either sex.

Overall, “the potential role of serum cholesterol affecting PD etiology or as a marker of incipient [sic] PD warrants further investigation,” the investigators concluded. 

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Rozani V, Gurevich T, Giladi N, et al. Serum cholesterol levels over time and risk of Parkinson’s disease. Presented at: 2017 International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders. June 4-8, 2017; Vancouver, BC, Canada. Abstract 18. 

This article originally appeared on Neurology Advisor