High-density lipoproteins (HDLs) are a heterogeneous group of lipoproteins composed of various lipids and proteins. HDL is formed both in the systemic circulation and in the brain. In addition to being a crucial player in the reverse cholesterol transport pathway, HDL possesses a wide range of other functions including anti-oxidation, anti-inflammation, pro-endothelial function, anti-thrombosis, and modulation of immune function. It has been firmly established that high plasma levels of HDL protect against cardiovascular disease. Accumulating evidence indicates that the beneficial role of HDL extends to many other systems including the central nervous system. Cognition is a complex brain function that includes all aspects of perception, thought, and memory. Cognitive function often declines during aging and this decline manifests as cognitive impairment/dementia in age-related and progressive neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. A growing concern is that no effective therapy is currently available to prevent or treat these devastating diseases. Emerging evidence suggests that HDL may play a pivotal role in preserving cognitive function under normal and pathological conditions. This review attempts to summarize recent genetic, clinical and experimental evidence for the impact of HDL on cognition in aging and in neurodegenerative disorders as well as the potential of HDL-enhancing approaches to improve cognitive function.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health ( AG031846 ), the Alzheimer Drug Discovery Foundation (# 20131002 ), the College of Pharmacy (Engebretson/Bighley Drug Design and Development Program; # 20078 ) and the Academic Health Center of the University of Minnesota (# 21287 ) to LL.