Cardiometabolic factors, brain aging, and dementia care – Weili Xu group

Within the area of geriatric epidemiology, our research focuses on cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, nutrition, and dementing disorders. We study how cardiovascular/metabolic disorders, organ function, and nutrition relate to brain pathologies and dementia risk, explore compensatory factors that may support healthier cognitive aging, and examine care utilization among people with dementia.

Research news and upcoming activities

Our research

We have the following specific research lines:

  1. The interplay between cardiometabolic disorders and genetic factors in relation to cognitive impairment and dementia
  2. The role of nutrition and diet in cognitive aging
  3. The impact of sensory function on cognitive decline and brain structure changes
  4. Exploration of mechanisms that may protect against the development of dementia among people with cardiometabolic disorders
  5. Care use among people with dementing disorders


Cardiometabolic multimorbidity and incident dementia: the Swedish twin registry.
Dove A, Guo J, Marseglia A, Fastbom J, Vetrano DL, Fratiglioni L, Pedersen NL, Xu W
Eur Heart J 2023 Feb;44(7):573-582

Association of impaired kidney function with dementia and brain pathologies: A community-based cohort study.
Wang S, Wang J, Dove A, Guo J, Yang W, Qi X, Bennett DA, Xu W
Alzheimers Dement 2022 Dec;():

Association of Lifespan Cognitive Reserve Indicator With Dementia Risk in the Presence of Brain Pathologies.
Xu H, Yang R, Qi X, Dintica C, Song R, Bennett DA, Xu W
JAMA Neurol 2019 Oct;76(10):1184-1191

Associations Between Cardiovascular Risk, Structural Brain Changes, and Cognitive Decline.
Song R, Xu H, Dintica CS, Pan KY, Qi X, Buchman AS, Bennett DA, Xu W
J Am Coll Cardiol 2020 May;75(20):2525-2534

Body Mass Index Trajectories Preceding Incident Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia.
Guo J, Wang J, Dove A, Chen H, Yuan C, Bennett DA, Xu W
JAMA Psychiatry 2022 Dec;79(12):1180-1187

Cardiometabolic multimorbidity accelerates cognitive decline and dementia progression.
Dove A, Marseglia A, Shang Y, Grande G, Vetrano DL, Laukka EJ, Fratiglioni L, Xu W
Alzheimers Dement 2022 Jun;():

Association of cardiovascular risk burden with risk of dementia and brain pathologies: A population-based cohort study.
Song R, Pan KY, Xu H, Qi X, Buchman AS, Bennett DA, Xu W
Alzheimers Dement 2021 Dec;17(12):1914-1922

Shared risk and protective factors between Alzheimer's disease and ischemic stroke: A population-based longitudinal study.
Wang R, Qiu C, Dintica CS, Shang Y, Calderón Larrañaga A, Wang HX, Xu W
Alzheimers Dement 2021 Feb;17(2):191-204

Association of diabetes with stroke and post-stroke dementia: A population-based cohort study.
Shang Y, Fratiglioni L, Marseglia A, Plym A, Welmer AK, Wang HX, Wang R, Xu W
Alzheimers Dement 2020 Jul;16(7):1003-1012

Can active life mitigate the impact of diabetes on dementia and brain aging?
Marseglia A, Darin-Mattsson A, Kalpouzos G, Grande G, Fratiglioni L, Dekhtyar S, Xu W
Alzheimers Dement 2020 Nov;16(11):1534-1543

Doctoral theses

  1. Behnaz Shakersain (2017): "Impact of nutritional status and diet on cognitive decline and survival". Karolinska Institutet.
  2. Anna Marseglia (2018): ""The impact of diabetes on cognitive aging and dementia". Karolinska Institutet.
  3. Christina S Dintica (2020): "Oral health and olfactory function: What can they tell us about cognitive aging?". Karolinska Institutet.
  4. Ying Shang (2021): "How can older adults combat diabetes to achieve a Longer and healthier life?". Karolinska Institutet.
  5. Jie Guo (2022): ""Unraveling the Relationship between Body Mass Index and Cardiometabolic Disease, Dementia, and Survival in Old Age". Karolinska Institutet.

Staff and contact

Group leader

All members of the group

Associated group member

Anders Sköldunger

Affiliated to Research

Contact and visit us

Postal address

Aging Research Center, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society
Karolinska Institutet
SE-171 77 Stockholm

Visiting address

Tomtebodavägen 18 A, Widerström Building, floors 9 and 10
SE-171 65 Solna

Map - Widerström building, Tomtebodavägen 18a, Solna


Reducing Dementia Risk in Older Adults Affected by Cardio-Metabolic Disease

Cardiometabolic diseases (CMDs, including heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes) increase the risk of dementia. The goal of this project is to advance our understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying the co-occurrence of CMDs and dementia, and to discover novel compensatory mechanisms against CMD-associated dementia. We aim to identify novel metabolic pathways underlying the co-occurrence of CMDs and dementia and investigate whether compensatory mechanisms related to cognitive reserve, healthy diet, and CMD medications can buffer the risk effect of CMDs on dementia.

Understanding the complex and progressive care needs of older adults with cognitive disorders to provide timely and personalized care delivery

Dementia is one of the major causes of disability and dependence, and its impact on healthcare systems leads to an enormous burden on our current and future society. The goal of this project is to provide evidence supporting timely and personalized care for people with cognitive disorders (mild cognitive impairment [MCI] and dementia). We explore care needs and care utilization among people with MCI and dementia and capture their changes depending on disease progression, comorbidities, and social context, and compare dementia cases diagnosed at specialized settings with undiagnosed cases (identified in population-based cohort studies) to detect potentially different care trajectories.

Diet, APOE, cardiometabolic risk factors, and brain aging 

Consuming a balanced, nutritious diet is important for maintaining health, especially as individuals age. The main objective of our research is to examine the role of diet (inflammatory diet) and nutrition (protein intake) with age-related cognitive decline, and brain age using large population-based longitudinal studies. By investigating diet in conjunction with genetic and cardiometabolic risk factors, we aim to clarify how diet can be harnessed to promote healthy aging.

Optimizing drug use among elderly people 

The use of medication amongst older people is complicated in many ways, especially among people with multiple illnesses. This is due to the fact that aging causes physical changes that lead to increased sensitivity to many medications and consequently an increased risk of medication side effects, especially if the use of medication is extensive. A large problem is that care of the elderly is now often divided and there are not good conditions for the organisation of medication prescriptions for the elderly. Our research aims to improve the quality in the use of medication amongst the elderly.


  • Rush Alzheimer Disease Center, USA
  • Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, University of California, Davis
  • Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin, China
  • The Swedish Red Cross University.
  • The National Board of Health and Welfare