Clinical Studies and Practice

Neuroinflammation in obesity: circulating lipopolysaccharide-binding protein associates with brain structure and cognitive performance



Growing evidence implicates neuroinflammation in the pathogenesis of diet-induced obesity and cognitive dysfunction in rodent models. Obesity is associated with reduced white matter integrity and cognitive decline. Circulating lipopolysaccharide binding protein (LBP) concentration is known to be increased in patients with obesity. Here, we aimed to evaluate whether circulating LBP is associated longitudinally with white matter structure and cognitive performance according to obesity status.


This longitudinal study analyzed circulating LBP (ELISA), DTI-metrics (axial diffusivity (L1), fractional anisotropy (FA) and radial diffusivity (RD)) in specific regions of the white matter of 24 consecutive middle-aged obese subjects (13 women) and 20 healthy volunteers (10 women) at baseline and two years later. Digit Span Test (DST) was used as a measure of working memory/short-term verbal memory.


Circulating LBP concentration was associated with FA and L1 values of several white matter regions both at baseline and follow-up. The associations remained significant after controlling for age, BMI, fat mass and plasma high sensitivity C-reactive protein. Importantly, the increase in LBP over time impacted negatively on FA and L1 values and on DST performance.


Circulating LBP associates with brain white matter integrity and working memory/short-term verbal memory in both obese and non-obese subjects.

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This work was partially supported by research grant PI15/01934 and PI16/02173 from the Instituto de Salud Carlos III from Spain and was also supported by FEDER funds. CIBEROBN Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición is an initiative from the Instituto de Salud Carlos III from Spain. We acknowledge the technical assistance of M. Sabater, E. Loshuertos and O. Rovira (both from Endocrinology, IdIBGi, Spain).

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Correspondence to J M Moreno-Navarrete or J M Fernández-Real.

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Moreno-Navarrete, J., Blasco, G., Puig, J. et al. Neuroinflammation in obesity: circulating lipopolysaccharide-binding protein associates with brain structure and cognitive performance. Int J Obes 41, 1627–1635 (2017).

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