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Cholecystokinin and Alzheimer’s Disease: A Biomarker of Metabolic Function, Neural Integrity, and Cognitive Performance

Plagman A, Hoscheidt S, McLimans KE, Klinedinst B, Pappas C, Anantharam V, Kanthasamy A, Willette AA (2019) Neurobiology of Aging 2019 Jan; 

Web URL: Read this and related abstracts on sciencedirect here



  • Higher CCK predicted better cognitive outcomes
  • Higher CCK predicted more GM in memory-specific regions of the brain
  • Higher CCK is related to more CSF tau and p-tau
  • Total tau reduced the influence of CCK on memory factor by nearly half 


Cholecystokinin (CCK) is a satiety hormone that is highly expressed in brain regions like the hippocampus. CCK is integral for maintaining or enhancing memory, and thus may be a useful; marker of cognitive and neural integrity in participants with normal cognition, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

CSF CCK levels were examined in 287 subjects from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). Linear or voxel-wise regression was used to examine associations between CCK, regional gray matter (GM), CSF AD biomarkers, and cognitive outcomes. Briefly, higher CCK was related to a decreased likelihood of having MCI or AD, better global and memory scores, and more GM volume primarily spanning posterior cingulate cortex, parahippocampal gyrus, and medial prefrontal cortex. CSF CCK was also strongly related to higher CSF total tau (R2=0.339) and p-tau181 (R2=0.240), but not Aβ1-42. Tau levels partially mediated CCK and cognition associations.

In conclusion, CCK levels may reflect compensatory protection as AD pathology progresses.


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