Nature Publishing Group
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Medical Sciences / Centre of Excellence for Alzheimer's Disease Research and Care
Lower hemoglobin is associated with cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease (AD). Since brain iron homeostasis is perturbed in AD, we investigated whether this is peripherally reflected in the hematological and related blood chemistry values from the Australian Imaging Biomarker and Lifestyle (AIBL) study (a community-based, cross-sectional cohort comprising 768 healthy controls (HC), 133 participants with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and 211 participants with AD). We found that individuals with AD had significantly lower hemoglobin, mean cell hemoglobin concentrations, packed cell volume and higher erythrocyte sedimentation rates (adjusted for age, gender, APOE-ε4 and site). In AD, plasma iron, transferrin, transferrin saturation and red cell folate levels exhibited a significant distortion of their customary relationship to hemoglobin levels. There was a strong association between anemia and AD (adjusted odds ratio (OR)=2.43, confidence interval (CI) (1.31, 4.54)). Moreover, AD emerged as a strong risk factor for anemia on step-down regression, even when controlling for all other available explanations for anemia (adjusted OR=3.41, 95% CI (1.68, 6.92)). These data indicated that AD is complicated by anemia, which may itself contribute to cognitive decline.