Cognitive decline has been described in elderly patients with schizophrenia, but the underlying pathology remains unknown. Some studies report increases in plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, but there is no evidence for an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in elderly schizophrenics. Models of a decreased cerebral reserve suggest that increases in AD-related neuropathology below the threshold for a neuropathological diagnosis could be related to dementia severity in elderly schizophrenia patients. We tested this hypothesis in 110 autopsy specimens of schizophrenia patients , without a neuropatholgical diagnosis of AD or other neurdegenerative disorders. Furthermore, we assessed the effects of apolipoprotein E (ApoE) status, a known genetic risk factor for AD. Measures of density of neuritic plaques were obtained in five cortical regions, and the degree of hippocampal neurofibrillary tangles was rated. Dementia severity was measured prior to postmortem using the Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) scale. In multivariate analyses of variance were conducted with the factors dementia severity, by ApoE4 carrier status. Hippocampal neurofibrillary tangles correlated with increased dementia severity (p < .05). Neuritic plaque density increased with greater dementia severity (p < .005), and ApoE4 carrier status (p < .005), and these differences were magnified by ApoE4 carrier status (p < .01). Even below the threshold for a neuropathological diagnosis of AD, neuritic plaques and hippocampal neurofibrillary tangles are associated with dementia severity in schizophrenia patients, even more so in the presence of genetic risk factors, suggesting that a decreased cerebral reserve in elderly schizophrenics may increase susceptibilty for dementia.
Schizophrenia; Alzheimer’s Disease; Neuropathology
Differences in cognitive reserve may contribute to the wide range of likelihood of dementia in people with similar amounts of age-related neuropathology. The amounts and interactions of presynaptic proteins could be molecular components of cognitive reserve, contributing resistance to the expression of pathology as cognitive impairment. We carried out a prospective study with yearly assessments of N=253 participants without dementia at study entry. Six distinct presynaptic proteins, and the protein–protein interaction between synaptosomal-associated protein 25 (SNAP-25) and syntaxin, were measured in post-mortem brains. We assessed the contributions of Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology, cerebral infarcts and presynaptic proteins to odds of dementia, level of cognitive function and cortical atrophy. Clinical dementia was present in N=97 (38.3%), a pathologic diagnosis of AD in N=142 (56.1%) and cerebral infarcts in N=77 (30.4%). After accounting for AD pathology and infarcts, greater amounts of vesicle-associated membrane protein, complexins I and II and the SNAP-25/syntaxin interaction were associated with lower odds of dementia (odds ratio=0.36–0.68, P<0.001 to P=0.03) and better cognitive function (P<0.001 to P=0.03). Greater cortical atrophy, a putative dementia biomarker, was not associated with AD pathology, but was associated with lower complexin-II (P=0.01) and lower SNAP-25/syntaxin interaction (P<0.001). In conclusion, greater amounts of specific presynaptic proteins and distinct protein–protein interactions may be structural or functional components of cognitive reserve that reduce the risk of dementia with aging.
Alzheimer's disease; cognitive reserve; complexin; dementia; SNARE protein
Epidemiologic evidence suggests that higher occupational attainment and education, as well as increased participation in intellectual, social, and physical aspects of daily life, are associated with slower cognitive decline in healthy elderly and may reduce the risk of incident Alzheimer's disease (AD). There is also evidence from structural and functional imaging studies that patients with such life experiences can tolerate more AD pathology before showing signs of clinical dementia. It has been hypothesized that such aspects of life experience may result in functionally more efficient cognitive networks and, therefore, provide a cognitive reserve that delays the onset of clinical manifestations of dementia. In this article, we review some of the relevant literature of the noted associations between markers of cognitive reserve and AD and discuss the possible mechanisms that may explain these associations.
The concept of cognitive reserve (CR) suggests that innate intelligence or aspects of life experience like educational or occupational attainments may supply reserve, in the form of a set of skills or repertoires that allows some people to cope with progressing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology better than others. There is epidemiological evidence that lifestyle characterized by engagement in leisure activities of intellectual and social nature is associated with slower cognitive decline in healthy elderly and may reduce the risk of incident dementia. There is also evidence from functional imaging studies that subjects engaging in such leisure activities can clinically tolerate more AD pathology. It is possible that aspects of life experience like engagement in leisure activities may result in functionally more efficient cognitive networks and therefore provide a CR that delays the onset of clinical manifestations of dementia.
Cognitive reserve explains why those with higher IQ, education, occupational attainment, or participation in leisure activities evidence less severe clinical or cognitive changes in the presence of age-related or Alzheimer’s disease pathology. Specifically, the cognitive reserve hypothesis is that individual differences in how tasks are processed provide reserve against brain pathology. Cognitive reserve may allow for more flexible strategy usage, an ability thought to be captured by executive functions tasks. Additionally, cognitive reserve allows individuals greater neural efficiency, greater neural capacity, and the ability for compensation via the recruitment of additional brain regions. Taking cognitive reserve into account may allow for earlier detection and better characterization of age-related cognitive changes and Alzheimer’s disease. Importantly, cognitive reserve is not fixed but continues to evolve across the lifespan. Thus, even late-stage interventions hold promise to boost cognitive reserve and thus reduce the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related problems.
aging; Alzheimer’s disease; brain reserve; cognitive reserve; neural reserve; neural compensation
Cognitive reserve is thought to reflect life experiences. Which experiences contribute to reserve and their relative importance is not understood. Subjects were 652 autopsied cases from the Rush Memory and Aging Project and the Religious Orders Study. Reserve was defined as the residual variance of the regressions of cognitive factors on brain pathology and was captured in a latent variable that was regressed on potential determinants of reserve. Neuropathology variables included Alzheimer’s disease markers, Lewy bodies, infarcts, microinfarcts, and brain weight. Cognition was measured with six cognitive domain scores. Determinants of reserve were socioeconomic status (SES), education, leisure cognitive activities at age 40 (CA40) and at study enrollment (CAbaseline) in late life. The four exogenous predictors of reserve were weakly to moderately inter-correlated. In a multivariate model, all except SES had statistically significant effects on Reserve, the strongest of which were CA40 (β= .31) and CAbaseline (β= .28). The Education effect was negative in the full model (β= −.25). Results suggest that leisure cognitive activities throughout adulthood are more important than education in determining reserve. Discrepancies between cognitive activity and education may be informative in estimating late life reserve.
Cognitive reserve; Alzheimer’s disease; Cerebrovascular disorders; Aging; Neuropsychological test battery; Multivariate analysis
The cognitive reserve hypothesis helps to explain the incomplete relationship between brain disease and cognitive status in people with neurologic diseases, including Alzheimer's; disease and multiple sclerosis. Lifetime intellectual enrichment (estimated with education or vocabulary knowledge) lessens the negative impact of brain disease on cognition, such that people with greater enrichment are able to withstand more severe neuropathology before suffering cognitive impairment or dementia. The current research is the first to investigate directly the relationship between intellectual enrichment and an index of cerebral activity (the blood oxygen level dependent signal) in a neurologic sample. Multiple sclerosis patients completed a vocabulary-based estimate of lifetime intellectual enrichment. Disease severity was estimated with brain atrophy. Cognitive status was measured with the Symbol Digit Modalities Test. Cerebral activity (functional magnetic resonance imaging blood oxygen level dependent signal) and behavioural performance (accuracy, reaction time) were recorded during the visual N-Back working memory task (three levels of demand: 0-, 1-, 2-Back). All patients produced perfect/nearly perfect accuracy during lower demands (0- and 1-Back), and reaction time was unrelated to intellectual enrichment; however, voxelwise partial correlations controlling for brain atrophy revealed strong positive correlations between intellectual enrichment and cerebral activity within the brain's; default network (e.g. anterior and posterior cingulate corticies), indicating that patients with greater enrichment were able to maintain resting state activity during cognitive processing better. In turn, intellectual enrichment was negatively associated with prefrontal recruitment, suggesting that patients with lesser enrichment required more cerebral resources to perform the same cognitive task as patients with greater enrichment. This same pattern of enrichment-related cerebral activity was observed when cognitive demands increased (2-Back), and intellectual enrichment was negatively associated with reaction time. Principle components analysis revealed a single cognitive reserve network across tasks (greater default network, lesser prefrontal recruitment). Expression of this network almost fully mediated the positive relationship between intellectual enrichment and cognitive status (Symbol Digit Modalities Test). Also, expression of this network was positively associated with brain atrophy when controlling for cognitive status, indicating that patients with greater expression of this network can withstand more severe brain disease before exhibiting cognition similar to patients with lesser network expression. Of note, similar functional magnetic resonance imaging research with healthy adults has not found an association between intelligence and cerebral efficiency. The unique relationship between intellectual enrichment and cerebral efficiency in neurologic patients is consistent with the cognitive reserve hypothesis, which does not posit that enrichment leads to gains in neurocognitive functioning per se; rather, enrichment protects against neurocognitive decline secondarily to disease.
cognitive reserve; functional MRI; multiple sclerosis; Alzheimer's; disease; default network
Individuals with antemortem preservation of cognition who show autopsy evidence of at least moderate Alzheimer disease (AD) pathology suggest the possibility of brain reserve, that is, functional resistance to structural brain damage. This reserve would, however, only be relevant if the pathologic markers correlate well with dementia. Using data from the Nun Study (n = 498) and the Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) Study (n = 323), we show that Braak staging correlates strongly with dementia status. Moreover, participants with severe (Braak stage V–VI) AD pathology who remained not demented represent only 12% (Nun Study) and 8% (ACT study) of nondemented subjects. Comparison of these subjects to those who were demented revealed that the former group was often significantly memory impaired despite not being classified as demented. Most of these nondemented participants showed only stage V neurofibrillary pathology and frontal tangle counts that were slightly lower than a comparable (Braak stage V) dementia group. In summary, these data indicate that, in individuals with AD-type pathology who do not meet criteria for dementia, neocortical neurofibrillary tangles are somewhat reduced and incipient cognitive decline is present. Our data provide a foundation for helping to define additional factors that may impair, or be protective of, cognition in older adults.
Adult Changes in Thought Study; Alzheimer disease; brain reserve; dementia; Nun Study; presymptomatic; preclinical
Several factors may influence the relationship between Alzheimer disease (AD) lesions and the expression of dementia, including those related to brain and cognitive reserve. Other factors may confound the association between AD pathology and dementia. We tested whether factors thought to influence the association of AD pathology and dementia help to accurately identify dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT) when considered together with amyloid imaging.
Participants with normal cognition (n = 180) and with DAT (n = 25), aged 50 years or older, took part in clinical, neurologic, and psychometric assessments. PET with the Pittsburgh compound B (PiB) tracer was used to measure brain amyloid, yielding a mean cortical binding potential (MCBP) reflecting PiB uptake. Logistic regression was used to generate receiver operating characteristic curves, and the areas under those curves (AUC), to compare the predictive accuracy of using MCBP alone vs MCBP together with other variables selected using a stepwise selection procedure to identify participants with DAT vs normal cognition.
The AUC resulting from MCBP alone was 0.84 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.73–0.94; cross-validated AUC = 0.80, 95% CI = 0.68–0.92). The AUC for the predictive equation generated by a stepwise model including education, normalized whole brain volume, physical health rating, gender, and use of medications that may interfere with cognition was 0.94 (95% CI = 0.90–0.98; cross-validated AUC = 0.91, 95% CI = 0.85–0.96), an improvement (p = 0.025) over that yielded using MCBP alone.
Results suggest that factors reported to influence associations between AD pathology and dementia can improve the predictive accuracy of amyloid imaging for the identification of symptomatic AD.
β = amyloid-β;
= Alzheimer disease;
= area under receiver operating characteristic curve;
= binding potential;
= Clinical Dementia Rating;
= confidence interval;
= dementia of the Alzheimer type;
= distribution volume;
= mean cortical binding potential;
= normalized whole brain volume;
= odds ratio;
= Pittsburgh compound B;
= receiver operating characteristic curve;
= region of interest.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia among the elderly, affecting millions of people worldwide and representing a substantial economic burden. AD is a progressive disease associated with memory loss and impaired cognitive function. The neuropathology is characterized by cortical accumulation of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs). Amyloid plaques are small, aggregated peptides called beta amyloid (Aβ) and NFTs are aggregates of hyperphosphorylated Tau protein. Because Aβ disrupts multiple intracellular signaling pathways, resulting in some of the clinical symptoms of AD, understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms has implications for the diagnosis and treatment of AD. Recent studies have demonstrated that Aβ regulates striatal-enriched protein tyrosine phosphatase (STEP) (PTPN5). Aβ accumulation is associated with increases in STEP levels and activity that in turn disrupts glutamate receptor trafficking to and from the neuronal membrane. These findings indicate that modulating STEP levels or inhibiting its activity may have beneficial effects for patients with AD, making it an important target for drug discovery. This article reviews the biology of STEP and its role in AD as well as the potential clinical applications.
Demographic changes and improvements in health care are projected to result in dramatic increases in the prevalence of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is widely considered to be the primary cause of dementia – a disease for which there is currently no cure nor effective treatment, and for which it is thought that little can be done to mitigate risk. However, an increasing understanding of the role and extent of vascular contributions to the development of dementia, and appreciation of the interactions between stroke and Alzheimer’s disease, suggest that targeting vascular risk factors may be very beneficial in reducing the impact of dementia. We also describe how active stimulation of the brain throughout the life course builds cognitive reserve that can offset or compensate for cognitive decline in later life. Finally, we discuss the implications of these emerging approaches for dementia prevention and advocate for the urgent implementation of more extensive public health strategies to improve vascular health.
stroke; Alzheimer’s; prevention; cognitive reserve; dementia
Subcortical ischemic vascular dementia (SIVD) has been proposed as a subtype of vascular cognitive impairment (VCI). The syndrome is defined clinically by cognitive impairment and evidence of subcortical vascular brain injury, including lacunar infarcts and deep white matter changes. SIVD has been traditionally recognized as lacunar state, strategic infarct dementia, and Binswanger syndrome, but these clinical syndromes represent the tip of the iceberg. Proton density magnetic resonance (MRI) often discloses “silent” hyperintensities in 20-40% of community dwelling elderly. Efforts to relate MRI-measured lacunes and white matter changes to cognitive impairment have not been straightforward. The hidden possibility that concomitant Alzheimer disease pathology contributes significantly to cognitive impairment increases with age. Nonetheless, new knowledge is being gained from longitudinal MRI and systematic neuropathological studies. Cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukencephalopathy (CADASIL), a rare genetic disorder, provides an opportunity to study pure SIVD in the absence of AD. Dysexecutive syndrome characterized by slowing of mental processing speed, decreased working memory, and impairment of abstract reasoning are associated with lacunes and deep white matter changes. But data related to sensitivity and specificity which would support dysexecutive syndrome as diagnostic criteria are limited. Hypertension, by far the leading risk factor for sporadic SIVD, is eminently treatable. High priority must be given to reducing vascular risk profiles.
vascular dementia; subcortical; ischemia; lacunes; white matter changes
Delirum is common in hospitalized elderly patients and may be associated with increased morbidity, length of stay and patient care costs. Delirium (acute confusional state) is defined as an acute disorder of attention and cognition. In elderly patients, delirium is often an early indicator of patho-physiological disturbances. Despite landmark studies dating back to the 1940s, the pathogenesis of Delirium remains poorly understood. Early investigators noted that Delirium was characterized by global cortical dysfunction that was associated predominantly with specific electroencephalographic changes. It's important to understand the risk factors and incidence of Delirium. Some of the risk factors are already identified in literature and can be summarized in the word "VINDICATE" which stands for: Vascular, Infections, Nutrition, Drugs, Injury, Cardiac, Autoimmune, Tumors, Endocrine. Aims of this study are: to re-evaluate the above mentioned clinical risk factors, adding some others selected from literature, and to test, as risk factors, a pattern of some genes associated to cognitive dysfunction and inflammation possibly related to postoperative Delirium.
All patients admitted to our Emergency Unit who are meet our inclusion/exclusion criteria will be recruited. The arising of postoperative Delirium will select incidentally two groups (Delirium/non Delirium) and the forward analysis of correlate risk factors will be performed. As in a typical observational case/control study we will consider all the exposure factors to which our population are submitted towards the outcome (presence of Delirium). Our exposures are the following: ASA, Pain (SVS; VAS), Blood gas analysis (pH; Hb; pO2; pCO2), Residence pharmacological therapy (BDZ; hypnotics; narcotic drugs; alcohol; nitrous derivates), Body temperature, Arterial pressure, Heart frequency, Breath frequency, Na, K, Creatinin, Glicemia, Albumin, Hct, White blood cells, Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), Cognitive state (SPMSQ), Functional state (ADL and IADL), Psychological Distress (HADS), Cumulative Illness Rating Scale (CIRS), Hypotension (classified in: light; moderate and severe and duration), Blood loss (classified in: < 2 lt and > 2 lt), Blood transfusions (< 2 lt and > 2 lt), Quantity of red cells and plasma transfusions, Visual VAS / SVS (timing: I-II-III post-operative day), Red cells and Plasma transfusions, Blood count evaluation and Saturation (O2%), Postoperative analgesia (Emilia-Romagna protocol), Presence of malignant tumoral disease, APACHE Score II. Moreover the presence of some relevant genetic polymorphisms will be studied in different genes such as IL-6, IL-10, TNF-alpha, and IL-1 cluster.
Cognitive reserve is thought to influence the degree of neuropathology needed for diagnosis of Alzheimer disease (AD). Cognitive reserve can be operationally defined as the hypothesized capacity of the mature adult brain to sustain the effects of disease or injury without manifesting clinical symptoms of AD, but sufficient to cause clinical dementia in an individual possessing less cognitive reserve. Its effect on the subsequent course of AD is less clear. Pre-morbid IQ is a useful measure of cognitive reserve.
We studied 659 consecutive patients with AD at a tertiary referral memory clinic. Patients were assessed on six cognitive tests at baseline. Activities of Daily Living (ADL) were measured on the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) scale and Physical Self-Maintenance Scale (PSMS). The National Adult Reading Test (NART) was used to estimate pre-morbid IQ. Patients were followed up after starting a cholinesterase inhibitor over 78 weeks. Mixed general linear models estimated the effects of NART on cognition and ADL.
Three hundred and fifty-five patients had NART scored with a mean estimated pre-morbid IQ of 104.7 (standard deviation 18.5). NART increased overall cognitive ability by 2.7% for every 10 IQ points (p < .001). There was a trend for an effect on the change in cognition over time (p = .065) with higher NART associated with improvement of cognitive ability over time. After adjusting for age and sex, a 10 point increase in NART was associated with an improvement of 2% in ADL scores, but this effect was explained by NART's influence on contemporaneous cognitive ability.
Our data support the hypothesis that cognitive reserve continues to have a limited influence on cognition after AD has been diagnosed and thus, indirectly, has an impact on ADL.
Many elderly individuals remain dementia-free throughout their life. However, some of these individuals exhibit Alzheimer disease neuropathology on autopsy, evidenced by neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) in AD-specific brain regions. We conducted a genome-wide association study to identify genetic mechanisms that distinguish non-demented elderly with a heavy NFT burden from those with a low NFT burden. The study included 344 non-demented subjects with autopsy (201 subjects with low and 143 with high NFT levels). Both a genotype test, using logistic regression, and an allele test provided genome-wide significant evidence that variants in the RELNgene are associated with neuropathology in the context of cognitive health. Immunohistochemical data for reelin expression in AD-related brain regions added support for these findings. Reelin signaling pathways modulate phosphorylation of tau, the major component of NFTs, either directly or through β-amyloid pathways that influence tau phosphorylation. Our findings suggest that up-regulation of reelin may be a compensatory response to tau-related or beta-amyloid stress associated with AD even prior to the onset of dementia.
Amyloid imaging has identified cognitively normal older people with plaques as a group possibly at increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease-related dementia. It is important to begin to thoroughly characterize this group so that preventative therapies might be tested. Existing cholinotropic agents are a logical choice for preventative therapy as experimental evidence suggests that they are anti-amyloidogenic and clinical trials have shown that they delay progression of mild cognitive impairment to dementia. A detailed understanding of the status of the cortical cholinergic system in preclinical AD is still lacking, however. For more than 30 years, depletion of the cortical cholinergic system has been known to be one of the characteristic features of AD. Reports to date have suggested that some cholinergic markers are altered prior to cognitive impairment while others may show changes only at later stages of dementia. These studies have generally been limited by relatively small sample sizes, long postmortem intervals and insufficient definition of control and AD subjects by the defining histopathology. We therefore examined pre- and post-synaptic elements of the cortical cholinergic system in frontal and parietal cortex in 87 deceased subjects, including non-demented elderly with and without amyloid plaques as well as demented persons with neuropathologically-confirmed AD. Choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) activity was used as a presynaptic marker while displacement of 3H-pirenzepine binding by oxotremorine-M in the presence and absence of GppNHp was used to assess postsynaptic M1 receptor coupling. The results indicate that cortical ChAT activity as well as M1 receptor coupling are both significantly decreased in non-demented elderly subjects with amyloid plaques and are more pronounced in subjects with AD and dementia. These findings confirm that cortical cholinergic dysfunction in AD begins at the preclinical stage of disease and suggest that cholinotropic agents currently used for AD treatment are a logical choice for preventative therapy.
Alzheimer’s disease; cholinergic; muscarinic receptor; G-protein; amyloid imaging; preventative therapy; asymptomatic
In exploring the cognitive reserve hypothesis in persons with substantial Alzheimer disease neuropathology, we aimed to determine the extent to which educational attainment and densities of diffuse plaques, neuritic plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles predict dementia. Participants were 1563 individuals aged 65 years or above who were assessed for dementia within 1 year of death. Generalized linear mixed models were used to examine whether education and density ratings of diffuse plaques and neuritic plaques, and neurofibrillary tangle stage were associated with a dementia diagnosis. Education interacted with densities of neuritic plaques to predict dementia. Tangle density independently predicted dementia, but did not interact with education. Diffuse plaque density was unrelated to dementia when adjusted for densities of neuritic plaques and tangles. Among individuals with Alzheimer disease neuropathology, educational attainment, as a surrogate of cognitive reserve, modifies the influence of neuritic, but not diffuse, plaque neuropathology on the expression of dementia.
Alzheimer disease; cognitive reserve; education; neuropathology
Dementia is characterized by progressive and mostly irreversible memory loss. Other neuropsychiatric disorders affect cognition in varying manner. Are all people affected with such disorders manifest clinically in similar manner or does our brain have some reserve to tolerate insults? Relevant researches over the last two decades were scrutinized to understand brain reserve, appreciate the conceptual change in the same over years, and how the same can be improved for better cognition and memory over the year. Literature evidence suggests that the cognitive reserve (CR) is a dynamic and functional concept. There is adequate evidence to suggest that enriched environment and various other measures are likely to improve CR across all age. Improving CR may delay or reverse the effects of aging or brain pathology.
Cognitive reserve; enriched environment; neurogenesis; synaptogenesis
Converging evidence suggests that high levels of education and intellectual activity increase the cognitive reserve and reduce the risk of dementia. However, little is known about the impact that different neuroprotective strategies may have on the incidence of Alzheimer's disease. Using a simple mathematical regression model, it is shown here that age-specific counts of basic cognitive units (surrogate of neurons or synapses) in the normal population can be estimated from Alzheimer's incidence rates. Hence, the model can be used to test the effect of neuroprotection on Alzheimer's incidence. It was found that the number of basic cognitive units decreases with age, but levels off in older people. There were no gender differences after correcting for survival. The model shows that even modest neuroprotective effects on basic cognitive units can lead to dramatic reductions in the number of Alzheimer's cases. Most remarkably, a 5% increase in the cognitive reserve would prevent one third of Alzheimer's cases. These results suggest that public health policies aimed at increasing the cognitive reserve in the general population (e.g., implementing higher levels of education) are likely the most effective strategy for preventing Alzheimer's disease.
Dementia is a clinical syndrome of widespread progressive deterioration of cognitive abilities and normal daily functioning. These cognitive and behavioral impairments pose considerable challenges to individuals with dementia, along with their family members and caregivers. Four primary dementia classifications have been defined according to clinical and research criteria: 1) Alzheimer’s disease; 2) vascular dementias; 3) frontotemporal dementias; and 4) dementia with Lewy bodies/Parkinson’s disease dementia. The cumulative efforts of multidisciplinary healthcare teams have advanced our understanding of dementia beyond basic descriptions, towards a more complete elucidation of risk factors, clinical symptoms, and neuropathological correlates. The characterization of disease subtypes has facilitated targeted management strategies, advanced treatments, and symptomatic care for individuals affected by dementia. This review briefly summarizes the current state of knowledge and directions of dementia research and clinical practice. We provide a description of the risk factors, clinical presentation, and differential diagnosis of dementia. A summary of multidisciplinary team approaches to dementia care is outlined, including management strategies for the treatment of cognitive impairments, functional deficits, and behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. The needs of individuals with dementia are extensive, often requiring care beyond traditional bounds of medical practice, including pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic management interventions. Finally, advanced research on the early prodromal phase of dementia is reviewed, with a focus on change-point models, trajectories of cognitive change, and threshold models of pathological burden. Future research goals are outlined, with a call to action for social policy initiatives that promote preventive lifestyle behaviors, and healthcare programs that will support the growing number of individuals affected by dementia.
dementia; Alzheimer’s disease; clinical features; multidisciplinary care; BPSD; prodromal dementia
Neuropsychological assessment has featured prominently over the past 30 years in the characterization of dementia associated with Alzheimer disease (AD). Clinical neuropsychological methods have identified the earliest, most definitive cognitive and behavioral symptoms of illness, contributing to the identification, staging, and tracking of disease. With increasing public awareness of dementia, disease detection has moved to earlier stages of illness, at a time when deficits are both behaviorally and pathologically selective. For reasons that are not well understood, early AD pathology frequently targets large-scale neuroanatomical networks for episodic memory before other networks that subserve language, attention, executive functions, and visuospatial abilities. This chapter reviews the pathognomonic neuropsychological features of AD dementia and how these differ from “normal,” age-related cognitive decline and from other neurodegenerative diseases that cause dementia, including cortical Lewy body disease, frontotemporal lobar degeneration, and cerebrovascular disease.
Alzheimer disease (AD) targets neuroanatomical networks for episodic memory before those for language, executive functions, and visuospatial abilities. Therefore, amnestic dementia is strongly associated with early AD pathology.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of progressive cognitive decline and dementia in adults. While the amyloid cascade hypothesis of AD posits an initiating role for the β-amyloid (Aβ) protein, there is limited understanding of why Aβ is deposited. A growing body of evidence based on in vitro, animal studies and human imaging work suggests that synaptic activity increases Aβ, which is deposited preferentially in multimodal brain regions that show continuous levels of heightened activation and plasticity across the lifespan. Imaging studies of people with genetic predispositions to AD are consistent with these findings, suggesting a mechanism whereby neural efficiency or cognitive reserve may diminish Aβ deposition. The aggregated findings unify observations from cellular and molecular studies with human cognitive neuroscience to reveal potential mechanisms of AD development.
Diabetes mellitus (DM) increases the risk of dementia in the elderly. However the underlying mechanisms, its connection with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and vascular cognitive impairment (VCI), and effects of therapy remain unclear.
To test the hypothesis that DM promotes specific neuropathologic processes that contribute to dementia and that these processes may be suppressed by antidiabetic therapy.
A comprehensive neuropathologic assessment of all cases from a community-based study of incident dementia (Adult Changes in Thought study) that underwent autopsies (n=259) and had information on DM status (n=196). Biochemical analysis was conducted on a subset of these cases with rapidly frozen brain tissue (n=57).
Autopsy cases were divided into four groups: no DM/no dementia (DM−/dementia−), DM/no dementia (DM+/dementia−), no DM/dementia (DM−/dementia+), and DM/dementia (DM+/ dementia+). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fourth Edition) diagnosis of dementia was assigned through a consensus of experts following biennial cognitive and physical evaluations. Diabetes was diagnosed based on information obtained from participants’ extensive medical records.
In cases without dementia (n=125), neuropathologic or biochemical endpoints did not differ significantly by DM status. However, we observed 2 patterns of injury in patients with dementia (n=71) by their DM status. Individuals without DM, but with dementia (DM−/dementia+) had greater Aβ peptide load and increased F2-isoprostanes in the cerebral cortex, while DM+/dementia+ patients had more microvascular infarcts (MVI) and an increased cortical IL-6 (interleukin 6) concentration. The number of microvascular infarcts was greater in deep cerebral structures in patients with dementia whose diabetes was treated, whereas amyloid plaque load tended to be greater for untreated diabetic patients with dementia.
These novel characterizations of 2 different patterns of cerebral injury in patients with dementia depending on DM status may have etiologic and therapeutic implications.
To investigate whether some patients with very mild Alzheimer's disease (AD) demonstrate disproportionate executive dysfunction relative to amnesia and how this relates to functional impairment in daily life, future clinical decline, APOE genotype and regional cortical thickness measured from MRI scan data.
The Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative dataset was interrogated for a primary sample of patients with very mild AD dementia (n=100) and a secondary confirmatory sample of patients with mild cognitive impairment (n=396). An executive predominant subgroup was defined as having executive performance ≥2 SDs worse than memory performance and a memory predominant subgroup was defined conversely. A priori regions of interest from a previous study of an AD patient sample were used to obtain cortical thickness measures.
Despite equivalent global measures of impairment (Mini-Mental State Examination, Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) Sum of Boxes), executive predominant patients (n=88) were more impaired on other executive measures and in the CDR Judgement and Problem Solving box (p<0.005) while memory predominant patients (n=56) were more impaired on other memory measures (p<0.05). The APOE-ε4 allele was much more frequent in the memory predominant subgroup (p<0.0001). Frontoparietal cortical regions were thinner in the executive predominant group than in the memory predominant group (p<0.05).
A dysexecutive clinical phenotype of very mild AD is not rare and is associated with more problem solving difficulties and possibly more rapid progression compared with patients with a predominant amnesic phenotype. Executive predominant AD may reflect an alternative underlying pathophysiology related to genetic status, reflected in more prominent pathological alterations in frontoparietal regions subserving executive function. These findings, which deserve further investigation, may have implications for diagnosis, prognostication, monitoring and related issues involved in clinical research and care.
Lifestyle factors such as intellectual stimulation, cognitive and social engagement, nutrition, and various types of exercise appear to reduce the risk for common age-associated disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and vascular dementia. In fact, many studies have suggested that promoting physical activity can have a protective effect against cognitive deterioration later in life. Slowing or a deterioration of walking speed is associated with a poor performance in tests assessing psychomotor speed and verbal fluency in elderly individuals. Fitness training influences a wide range of cognitive processes, and the largest positive impact observed is for executive (a.k.a. frontal lobe) functions. Studies show that exercise improves additional cognitive functions such as tasks mediated by the hippocampus, and result in major changes in plasticity in the hippocampus. Interestingly, this exercise-induced plasticity is also pronounced in APOE ε4 carriers who express a risk factor for late-onset AD that may modulate the effect of treatments. Based on AD staging by Braak and Braak (1991) and Braak et al. (1993) we propose that the effects of exercise occur in two temporo-spatial continua of events. The “inward” continuum from isocortex (neocortex) to entorhinal cortex/hippocampus for amyloidosis and a reciprocal “outward” continuum for neurofibrillary alterations. The exercise-induced hypertrophy of the hippocampus at the core of these continua is evaluated in terms of potential for prevention to stave off neuronal degeneration. Exercise-induced production of growth factors such as the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has been shown to enhance neurogenesis and to play a key role in positive cognitive effects. Insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) may mediate the exercise-induced response to exercise on BDNF, neurogenesis, and cognitive performance. It is also postulated to regulate brain amyloid β (Aβ) levels by increased clearance via the choroid plexus. Growth factors, specifically fibroblast growth factor and IGF-1 receptors and/or their downstream signaling pathways may interact with the Klotho gene which functions as an aging suppressor gene. Neurons may not be the only cells affected by exercise. Glia (astrocytes and microglia), neurovascular units and the Fourth Element may also be affected in a differential fashion by the AD process. Analyses of these factors, as suggested by the multi-dimensional matrix approach, are needed to improve our understanding of this complex multi-factorial process, which is increasingly relevant to conquering the escalating and intersecting world-wide epidemics of dementia, diabetes, and sarcopenia that threaten the global healthcare system. Physical activity and interventions aimed at enhancing and/or mimicking the effects of exercise are likely to play a significant role in mitigating these epidemics, together with the embryonic efforts to develop cognitive rehabilitation for neurodegenerative disorders.
hippocampus; entorhinal cortex; insulin-like growth factor; reduction of systemic inflammation; p38 effector of Aβ-induced neurodegeneration; virtual reality environment; exponentially decreasing risk of cell death; loss of cognitive performance