The study, conducted by Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), observed that older people who were considered cognitively normal and had a lower body mass index (BMI) had more widespread deposits of the beta-amyloid protein in the brain.
Beta-amyloid is a protein that is the primary component of plaques characteristic of Alzheimer's disease.
The formation of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are thought to contribute to the degradation of nerve cells in the brain, which causes the symptoms associated with Alzheimer's disease, medicalnewstoday.com reports.
"Elevated cortical amyloid is believed to be the first stage of the preclinical form of Alzheimer's disease, so our findings suggest that individuals who are underweight late in life may be at greater risk for this disease," says senior author Dr. Gad Marshall, of the MGH and BWH Departments of Neurology.
"Finding this association with a strong marker of Alzheimer's disease risk reinforces the idea that being underweight as you get older may not be a good thing when it comes to your brain health," he adds.
A "preclinical form" of Alzheimer's disease is currently a theory rather than an official stage used to guide clinical diagnosis and treatment.
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