The role of leptin (a hormone related to fat mass) in cognition remains equivocal. Our objective was to investigate the relationship between circulating leptin concentration and cognition in older adults, accounting for potential confounders. We categorized 1061 community-dwelling older participants ≥60 years (mean ± SD, 70.6 ± 6.4 years; 41.6% female) from the Singapore Kidney Eye Study according to quintiles of leptin concentration (≤2.64; 2.64–5.1; 5.2–8.6; 8.7–17.96; ≥18 ng/mL). Cognition was assessed using the total and domain scores of the Abbreviated Mental Test (AMT). Age, gender, body mass index, mean arterial pressure, smoking, alcohol, education, memory complaint, anxiodepressive disorders, circulating concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, glycosylated hemoglobin, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and estimated glomerular filtration rate were used as potential confounders. Participants within the lowest (Q1) and highest (Q5) leptin quintiles exhibited lower (i.e., worse) mean total AMT scores compared to those within the intermediate quintiles (Q2, Q3, and Q4). Compared to Q3 as the reference, Q1 and Q5 were associated with decreased total AMT score (respectively, β = −0.53 p
= 0.018; β = −0.60 p
= 0.036). Compared to Q3, Q5 was also associated with decreased subscores on anterograde (β = −0.19 p
= 0.020) and retrograde episodic memories (β = −0.18 p
= 0.039). We found a non-linear U-shaped relationship between circulating leptin and cognition, with both lower and higher concentrations of leptin being associated with more severe cognitive impairment in community-dwelling older Asians.
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