Age-related increase of resting metabolic rate in the human brain

Shin Lei Peng, Julie A. Dumas, Denise C. Park, Peiying Liu, Francesca M. Filbey, Carrie J. McAdams, Amy E. Pinkham, Bryon Adinoff, Rong Zhang, Hanzhang Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


With age, many aspects of the brain structure undergo a pronounced decline, yet individuals generally function well until advanced old age. There appear to be several compensatory mechanisms in brain aging, but their precise nature is not well characterized. Here we provide evidence that the brain of older adults expends more energy when compared to younger adults, as manifested by an age-related increase (P=0.03) in cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen (CMRO2) (N=118, men=56, ages 18 to 74). We further showed that, before the mean menopausal age of 51years old, female and male groups have similar rates of CMRO2 increase (P=0.015) and there was no interaction between age and sex effects (P=0.85). However, when using data from the entire age range, women have a slower rate of CMRO2 change when compared to men (P<0.001 for age×sex interaction term). Thus, menopause and estrogen level may have played a role in this sex difference. Our data also revealed a possible circadian rhythm of CMRO2 in that brain metabolic rate is greater at noon than in the morning (P=0.02). This study reveals a potential neurobiological mechanism for age-related compensation in brain function and also suggests a sex-difference in its temporal pattern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-183
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Blood oxygenation
  • Cerebral blood flow
  • Cerebral metabolism
  • MRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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