Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw’s®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 15 No. 2 • March-April 2012

Anti-inflammatory Drugs Protect Brain from Age-Related Decreases in Volume in Normal Older Adults

Because of the reports in previous studies suggesting a reduced risk (up to a 50% decrease) of developing Alzheimer’s disease in people using antiinflammatory drugs, such as NSAIDS (non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs), authors of a new paper1 studied the cross-sectional effects on volume changes in gray and white brain matter in 36 women taking antiinflammatory drugs for arthritis or pain and compared these changes to those of 36 age and education matched women as controls. Participants were 52–92 years of age. The antiinflammatory drugs used by participants included non-selective NSAIDS, COX-2 inhibitor type NSAIDS, aspirin, and other drugs.

The changes in mean gray and white matter volume were reported to be small, but “AI [antiinflammatory] drug use interacted with age, such that the non-AI group showed significantly greater age-related volume changes in regions of both gray and white matter compared to the AI drug users.”

As the authors explain, the study was cross-sectional (e.g., differences in brain volume were compared between women of different ages but brain volume changes in individuals with time were not measured) and, hence, “cannot assess true age-related decline in brain volumes, the results are consistent with the notion that age-related decreases in brain volume that occur in cognitively normal older adults may be attenuated in individuals who have taken AI drugs for at least 2 years in the past.” They conclude that “[t]he current results are consistent with the notion that neuro-inflammation plays an important role in volume declines observed as part of the normal aging process and that suppressing the inflammatory response with anti-inflammatory medications has a moderating effect on normal age-related decreases in both gray and white matter regions.”


  1. Walther et al. Anti-inflammatory drugs reduce age-related decreases in brain volume in cognitively normal older adults. Neurobiol Aging 32:497-505 (2011).

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