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Plasma cortisol and norepinephrine in Alzheimer’s disease: opposite relations with recall performance and stage of progression

  • Karel J. Bemelmans (a1), Annemarie Noort (a2), Roel de Rijk (a3) (a4), Huub A. M. Middelkoop (a5), Godfried M. J. van Kempen (a4) and Jaap G. Goekoop (a1) (a4)...
<span class='bold'>Objective:</span>

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by effortful retrieval memory impairments, loss of hippocampal neurons and elevated plasma cortisol (CORT) concentrations. The latter could induce further memory decline. AD is also characterized by increased central and peripheral noradrenergic activity. Since noradrenergic function is involved in memory formation, this upregulated function could counteract memory decline. The aim of the present study was to test these hypotheses using plasma norepinephrine (NE) as a noradrenergic parameter, and recall of the prerecency part of neutral valence word lists as a measure of effortful retrieval.

<span class='bold'>Methods:</span>

Area under the curve (AUC) of morning, midday and afternoon plasma CORT and plasma NE concentrations was related to two measures of recall performance, ie summated recall scores of the prerecency and recency parts of three word lists, and to the stage of the Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR).

<span class='bold'>Results:</span>

Partial correlation between each hormone AUC value and prerecency recall performance, controlling for the effect of the other hormone, showed opposite relations between recall and either plasma CORT or NE. Similar stronger correlations were found with the CDR score.

<span class='bold'>Conclusions:</span>

Plasma CORT and NE are oppositely related with effortful retrieval and the stage of progression in AD.

Corresponding author
Karel J. Bemelmans, GGZ- Leiden, Rivierduinen, Rijngeesterstraatweg 13a, 2342 AN Oegstgeest, The Netherlands. Tel: 031-71-8907652; Fax: 031-71-8907620; E-mail:
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Acta Neuropsychiatrica
  • ISSN: 0924-2708
  • EISSN: 1601-5215
  • URL: /core/journals/acta-neuropsychiatrica
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