Weight Loss and Alzheimer's Disease in Down Syndrome

Victoria Fleming, Brian C. Helsel, Lauren T. Ptomey, H. Diana Rosas, Benjamin Handen, Charles Laymon, Bradley T. Christian, Elizabeth Head, Mark Mapstone, Florence Lai, Sharon Krinsky-Mchale, Shahid Zaman, Beau M. Ances, Joseph H. Lee, Sigan L. Hartley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Virtually all adults with Down syndrome (DS) develop Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology, but research gaps remain in understanding early signs of AD in DS. Objective: The goal of the present study was to determine if unintentional weight loss is part of AD in DS. The specific aims were to: 1) examine relation between chronological age, weight, AD pathology, and AD-related cognitive decline were assessed in a large cohort of adults with DS, and 2) determine if baseline PET amyloid-β (Aβ) and tau PET status (-versus+) and/or decline in memory and mental status were associated with weight loss prior to AD progression. Methods: Analyses included 261 adults with DS. PET data were acquired using [11C] PiB for Aβ and [18F] AV-1451 for tau. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated from weight and height. Direct measures assessed dementia and memory. Clinical AD status was determined using a case consensus process. Percent weight decline across 16-20 months was assessed in a subset of participants (n=77). Results: Polynomial regressions indicated an 0.23kg/m2 decrease in BMI per year beginning at age 36.5 years, which occurs alongside the period during which Aβ and tau increase and memory and mental status decline. At a within-person level, elevated Aβ, decline in memory and mental status were associated with higher percent weight loss across 16-20 months. Conclusion: Unintentional weight loss occurs alongside Aβ deposition and prior to onset of AD dementia, and thus may be a useful sign of AD in DS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1215-1227
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • amyloid
  • biomarkers
  • body mass index
  • tau
  • weight


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