Published on Sun Dec 12 2021

Impact of Weight Loss on Brain Age: Improved Brain Health Following Bariatric Surgery

See More ...

Overweight and obese individuals tend to have increased brain age, reflecting poorer brain health likely due to grey and white matter atrophy related to obesity. However, it is unclear if older brain age associated with obesity can be reversed following weight loss and cardiometabolic health improvement. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of weight loss and cardiometabolic improvement following bariatric surgery on brain health, as measured by change in brain age estimated based on voxel-based morphometry (VBM). We used three datasets: 1) CamCAN to train the brain age prediction model, 2) Human Connectome Project to investigate whether individuals with obesity have greater brain age than individuals with normal weight, and 3) pre-surgery, as well as 4, 12, and 24 month post-surgery data from participants (n=87) who underwent a bariatric surgery to investigate whether weight loss and cardiometabolic improvement as a result of bariatric surgery lowers the brain age. Our results from the HCP dataset showed a higher brain age for individuals with obesity compared to individuals with normal weight (p<0.0001). We also found significant improvement in brain health, indicated by a decrease of 2.9 and 5.6 years in adjusted delta age at 12 and 24 months following bariatric surgery compared to baseline (p<0.0005). While the overall effect seemed to be driven by a global change across all brain regions and not from a specific region, our exploratory analysis showed lower delta age in certain brain regions at 24 months. This reduced age was also associated with post-surgery improvements in BMI, systolic/diastolic blood pressure, and HOMA-IR (p<0.05). In conclusion, these results suggest that obesity-related brain health abnormalities might be reversed by bariatric surgery-induced weight loss and widespread improvements in cardiometabolic alterations.