Department of Public Health Sciences

Subgroup of ADNI normal controls characterized by atrophy and cognitive decline associated with vascular damage

Nettiksimmons J, Beckett L, Schwarz C, Carmichael O, Fletcher E, Decarli C

Psychology and Aging. 2013. 28(1):191-201.

Previous work examining Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) normal controls using cluster analysis identified a subgroup characterized by substantial brain atrophy and white matter hyperintensities (WMH). We hypothesized that these effects could be related to vascular damage. Fifty-three individuals in the suspected vascular cluster (Normal 2) were compared with 31 individuals from the cluster characterized as healthy/typical (Normal 1) on a variety of outcomes, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers, vascular risk factors and outcomes, cognitive trajectory, and medications for vascular conditions. Normal 2 was significantly older but did not differ on ApoE4+ prevalence. Normal 2 differed significantly from Normal 1 on all MRI measures but not on Amyloid-Beta1-42 or total tau protein. Normal 2 had significantly higher body mass index (BMI), Hachinksi score, and creatinine levels, and took significantly more medications for vascular conditions. Normal 2 had marginally significantly higher triglycerides and blood glucose. Normal 2 had a worse cognitive trajectory on the Rey's Auditory Verbal Learning Test (RAVLT) 30-min delay test and the Functional Activity Questionnaire (FAQ). Cerebral atrophy associated with multiple vascular risks is common among cognitively normal individuals, forming a distinct subgroup with significantly increased cognitive decline. Further studies are needed to determine the clinical impact of these findings. PMID: 23527743

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