The Ruff 2&7 Selective Attention Test’s (RSAT) current scoring data are relatively limited for older adults because persons over the age of 70 years were not included in the normative sample. Prior evidence suggests that changes in attention skills, such as those evaluated by the RSAT, may distinguish normal cognitive aging from pathologic cognitive decline. Thus, normative data for older individuals on this measure increases its utility in diagnosing Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and dementia, and enhance its potential use in clinical and research settings. Data from 415 male volunteers (mean age = 69.5 ± 5.7 years) in the PREADViSE clinical trial were used in the current investigation. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) shows statistically significant effects of age, race, and education on RSAT Speed measures. Results indicate that age-expanded norms will provide a more accurate reflection of the typical performance of older individuals on the RSAT.
Risk factors for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia are often investigated without accounting for the competing risk of mortality, which can bias results and lead to spurious conclusions, particularly regarding protective factors. Here, we apply a semi-Markov modeling approach to 531 participants in the University of Kentucky Biologically Resilient Adults in Neurological Studies (BRAiNS) longitudinal cohort, over one-third of whom died without transitioning to a cognitively impaired clinical state. A semi-Markov approach enables a statistical study of clinical state transitions while accounting for the competing risk of death and facilitates insights into both the odds that a risk factor will affect clinical transitions as well as the age at which the transition to MCI or dementia will occur. Risk factors assessed in the current study were identified by matching those reported in the literature with the data elements collected on participants. The presence of Type II diabetes at baseline shortens the time it takes cognitively intact individuals to transition to MCI by seven years on average while use of estrogen replacement therapy at enrollment (baseline) decreases the time required to convert from MCI to dementia by 1.5 years. Finally, smoking and being overweight do not promote transitions to impaired states but instead hasten death without a dementia. In contrast, conventional statistical analyses based on Cox proportional hazards models fail to recognize diabetes as a risk and show that being overweight increases the risk of clinical MCI while high blood pressure at baseline increases the risk of a dementia.
MCI; dementia; multi-state models; semi-Markov; risk factors; competing events
Down syndrome (DS) is the most common genetic cause of intellectual disability in children, and the number of adults with DS reaching old age is increasing. By the age of 40 years, virtually all people with DS have sufficient neuropathology for a postmortem diagnosis of Alzheimer disease (AD). Trisomy 21 in DS leads to an overexpression of many proteins, of which at least two are involved in oxidative stress and AD: superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) and amyloid precursor protein (APP). In this study, we tested the hypothesis that DS brains with neuropathological hallmarks of AD have more oxidative and nitrosative stress than those with DS but without significant AD pathology, as compared with similarly aged-matched non-DS controls. The frontal cortex was examined in 70 autopsy cases (n=29 control and n=41 DS). By ELISA, we quantified soluble and insoluble Aβ40 and Aβ42, as well as oligomers. Oxidative and nitrosative stress levels (protein carbonyls, HNE-bound proteins, and 3-nitrotyrosine) were measured by slot-blot. We found that soluble and insoluble Aβ and oligomers increase as a function of age in DS frontal cortex. Of the oxidative stress markers, HNE-bound proteins were increased overall in DS. Protein carbonyls were correlated with Aβ40 levels. These results suggest that oxidative damage, but not nitrosative stress, may contribute to the onset and progression of AD pathogenesis in DS. Conceivably, treatment with antioxidants may provide a point of intervention to slow pathological alterations in DS.
Alzheimer disease; 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal; 3-nitrotyrosine; oligomers; protein carbonyl; trisomy 21
Practice effects are a known threat to reliability and validity in clinical trials. Few studies have investigated the potential influence of practice on repeated screening measures in longitudinal clinical trials with a focus on dementia prevention. The current study investigates whether practice effects exist on a screening measure commonly used in aging research, the Memory Impairment Screen (MIS).
The PREADViSE trial is a clinical intervention study evaluating the efficacy of vitamin E and selenium for Alzheimer’s disease prevention. Participants are screened annually for incident dementia with the MIS. Participants with baseline and three consecutive follow-ups who made less than a perfect score at one or more assessments were included in the current analyses (N=1,803). An additional subset of participants with four consecutive assessments but who received the same version of the MIS at baseline and first follow-up (N=301) was also assessed to determine the effects of alternate forms on mitigating practice. We hypothesized that despite efforts to mitigate practice effects with alternate versions, MIS scores would improve with repeated screening. Linear mixed models were used to estimate mean MIS scores over time.
Among men with four visits and alternating MIS versions, although there is little evidence of a significant practice effect at the first follow-up, mean scores clearly improve at the second and third follow-ups for all but the oldest participants. Unlike those who received alternate versions, men given the same version at first follow-up show significant practice effects.
While increases in the overall means were small, they represent a significant number of men whose scores improved with repeated testing. Such improvements could bias case ascertainment if not taken into account.
Practice effects; Clinical trials; Alzheimer’s disease; Neuropsychological assessment
Cognitively intact elderly research volunteers at the University of Kentucky have been recruited, followed longitudinally, and autopsied with extensive neuropathological evaluations since 1989. To date, the cohort has recruited 1,030 individuals with 552 participants being actively followed, 363 deceased, and 273 autopsied. An extensive database has been constructed with continuous updates that include textured clinical, neuropsychological, neuroimaging, and pathological information. The history, demographics, clinical observations, and pathological features of this research cohort are described. We also explain some of the evolving methodologies and the academic contributions that have been made due to this motivated group of older Kentuckians.
Aging; Alzheimer’s; autopsy; brain; dementia; Lewy bodies; longitudinal; neuropathology; neurocognition; neuritic plaques; neurofibrillary tangles
The National Institute on Aging Preclinical Alzheimer’s disease Workgroup (PADW) has issued a preliminary report with recommendations for classifying preclinical Alzheimer’s disease (pAD) according to 3 early disease stages. Here we examine the PADW recommendations in relation to neuropathological features in a large, consecutive series of cognitively intact elderly persons, autopsied within a year after cognitive testing (n = 126 cognitively intact patients with mean age 83.7 years at death). Subjects were grouped based on a hypothetical construct correlating pathological features with PADW stages. Many cognitively intact individuals were classifiable as pAD (53/126 or 43%), as expected based on epidemiological and biomarker studies. Of these, most (48%) were in “stage 3”, which corresponds to amyloid pathology with early neurodegeneration. As with prior studies, our data indicate that the development of neocortical neurofibrillary tangles is the key pathological event that is not observed in pAD cases: Braak stages III or IV pathology are hence not truly a substrate for “intermediate likelihood” that cognitive impairment is due to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We also stress the importance of comorbid non-Alzheimer’s disease brain pathologies (hippocampal sclerosis, neocortical alpha-synucleinopathy, cerebrovascular disease, and brains with hippocampal neurofibrillary tangles but no cortical amyloid plaques) that can contribute to the development of cognitive impairment, or which may serve as confounds in the application of the PADW recommendations. While the final recommendations from the PADW working group have not yet been released, this preliminary analysis provides a perspective on those recommendations from a neuropathological point of view.
Nondemented; Biomarkers; MRI; CSF; Preclinical; Neuropathology; Normal
Preclinical Alzheimer’s disease (pAD) reflects neuropathological findings of AD in cognitively normal subjects. The present study represents an effort to determine if differences could be identified in the longitudinal patterns of cognitive performance in persons classified as pAD compared to those who did not meet criteria for AD at autopsy. We included 121 subjects who were cognitively normal from baseline through their last assessment before death and who underwent autopsy. Participants were classified into two groups: pathologically normal (PN; NIA-Reagan low or no-likelihood of AD, n=89) and preclinical AD (pAD; NIA-Reagan criteria of intermediate or high-likelihood of AD in the absence of clinical dementia symptoms, n=32) followed for a mean 7.5 years prior to death. Longitudinal rates and patterns of change in scores on a standard cognitive battery were compared between these two groups. While cognitive results at baseline and last evaluations revealed no clear cross sectional group differences after adjustment for age, APOE status, education, and gender, statistically significant differences between the pAD and PN groups in slope of decline were seen on a composite score of cognitive function. Further analyses showed three components of this score reached significance: constructional praxis, delayed recall of a word list, and category verbal fluency. Despite being clinically viewed as normal at enrollment and at the final exam, there are significant differences in rates of cognitive decline in participants classified as pAD compared to those without this pathology. Longitudinal changes in slope of decline in specific cognitive test measures can serve as non-invasive methods for the detection of pAD.
Alzheimer’s disease; cognition; normal; preclinical
Hippocampal sclerosis is a relatively common neuropathological finding (∼10% of individuals over the age of 85 years) characterized by cell loss and gliosis in the hippocampus that is not explained by Alzheimer’s disease. Hippocampal sclerosis pathology can be associated with different underlying causes, and we refer to hippocampal sclerosis in the aged brain as hippocampal sclerosis associated with ageing. Much remains unknown about hippocampal sclerosis associated with ageing. We combined three different large autopsy cohorts: University of Kentucky Alzheimer’s Disease Centre, the Nun Study and the Georgia Centenarian Study to obtain a pool of 1110 patients, all of whom were evaluated neuropathologically at the University of Kentucky. We focused on the subset of cases with neuropathology-confirmed hippocampal sclerosis (n = 106). For individuals aged ≥95 years at death (n = 179 in our sample), each year of life beyond the age of 95 years correlated with increased prevalence of hippocampal sclerosis pathology and decreased prevalence of ‘definite’ Alzheimer’s disease pathology. Aberrant TAR DNA protein 43 immunohistochemistry was seen in 89.9% of hippocampal sclerosis positive patients compared with 9.7% of hippocampal sclerosis negative patients. TAR DNA protein 43 immunohistochemistry can be used to demonstrate that the disease is usually bilateral even when hippocampal sclerosis pathology is not obvious by haematoxylin and eosin stains. TAR DNA protein 43 immunohistochemistry was negative on brain sections from younger individuals (n = 10) after hippocampectomy due to seizures, who had pathologically confirmed hippocampal sclerosis. There was no association between cases with hippocampal sclerosis associated with ageing and apolipoprotein E genotype. Age of death and clinical features of hippocampal sclerosis associated with ageing (with or without aberrant TAR DNA protein 43) were distinct from previously published cases of frontotemporal lobar degeneration TAR DNA protein 43. To help sharpen our ability to discriminate patients with hippocampal sclerosis associated with ageing clinically, the longitudinal cognitive profile of 43 patients with hippocampal sclerosis associated with ageing was compared with the profiles of 75 controls matched for age, gender, education level and apolipoprotein E genotype. These individuals were followed from intake assessment, with 8.2 (average) longitudinal cognitive assessments. A neuropsychological profile with relatively high-verbal fluency but low word list recall distinguished the hippocampal sclerosis associated with ageing group at intake (P < 0.015) and also 5.5–6.5 years before death (P < 0.005). This may provide a first step in clinical differentiation of hippocampal sclerosis associated with ageing versus pure Alzheimer’s disease in their earliest stages. In summary, in the largest series of autopsy-verified patients with hippocampal sclerosis to date, we characterized the clinical and pathological features associated with hippocampal sclerosis associated with ageing.
biomarkers; PGRN; epilepsy; FTLD; cerebrovascular; stroke
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) refers to the clinical state between normal cognition and probable Alzheimer's disease (AD), but persons diagnosed with MCI may progress to non-AD forms of dementia, remain MCI until death, or recover to normal cognition. Risk factors for these various clinical changes, which we term “transitions,” may provide targets for therapeutic interventions. Therefore, it is useful to develop new approaches to assess risk factors for these transitions. Markov models have been used to investigate the transient nature of MCI represented by amnestic single-domain and mixed MCI states, where mixed MCI comprised all other MCI subtypes based on cognitive assessments. The purpose of this study is to expand this risk model by including a clinically determined MCI state as an outcome. Analyses show that several common risk factors play different roles in affecting transitions to MCI and dementia. Notably, APOE-4 increases the risk of transition to clinical MCI but does not affect the risk for a final transition to dementia, and baseline hypertension decreases the risk of transition to dementia from clinical MCI.
Adults with Down syndrome (DS) are at risk for developing Alzheimer disease (AD). While plasma Aβ is known to be elevated in DS, its relationship to cognitive functioning is unknown. To assess this relationship, samples from two groups of subjects were used. In the first group, nondemented adults with DS were compared to: 1) a group of young and old individuals without DS and 2) to a group of patients with AD. Compared to these controls, there were significantly higher levels of plasma Aβ in nondemented adults with DS while AD patients showed lower levels of plasma Aβ. A larger second group included demented and nondemented adults with DS, in order to test the hypothesis that plasma Aβ may vary as a function of dementia and ApoE genotype. Plasma Aβ levels alone did not dissociate DS adults with and without dementia. However, in demented adults with DS, ApoE4 was associated with higher Aβ40 but not Aβ42. After controlling for level of intellectual disability (mild, moderate, profound) and the presence or absence of dementia, there was an improved prediction of neuropsychological scores by plasma Aβ. In summary, plasma Aβ can help predict cognitive function in adults with DS independently of the presence or absence of dementia.
apolipoprotein E; neuropsychology; Trisomy 21
Human studies are reviewed concerning whether “aging”-related mechanisms contribute to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathogenesis. AD is defined by specific neuropathology: neuritic amyloid plaques and neocortical neurofibrillary tangles. AD pathology is driven by genetic factors related not to aging per se, but instead to the amyloid precursor protein (APP). In contrast to genes involved in APP-related mechanisms, there is no firm connection between genes implicated in human “accelerated aging” diseases (progerias) and AD. The epidemiology of AD in advanced age is highly relevant but deceptively challenging to address given the low autopsy rates in most countries. In extreme old age, brain diseases other than AD approximate AD prevalence while the impact of AD pathology appears to peak by age 95 and decline thereafter. Many distinct brain diseases other than AD afflict older human brains and contribute to cognitive impairment. Additional prevalent pathologies include cerebrovascular disease and hippocampal sclerosis, both high-morbidity brain diseases that appear to peak in incidence later than AD chronologically. Because of these common brain diseases of extreme old age, the epidemiology differs between clinical “dementia” and the subset of dementia cases with AD pathology. Additional aging-associated mechanisms for cognitive decline such as diabetes and synapse loss have been linked to AD and these hypotheses are discussed. Criteria are proposed to define an “aging-linked” disease, and AD fails all of these criteria. In conclusion, it may be most fruitful to focus attention on specific pathways involved in AD rather than attributing it to an inevitable consequence of aging.
Among individuals who were cognitively intact before death, autopsies may reveal some Alzheimer's disease-type pathology. The presence of end-stage pathology in cognitively intact persons would support the hypothesis that pathological markers are epiphenomena. We assessed advanced neurofibrillary (Braak stages V and VI) pathology focusing on nondemented individuals. Data from the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center database (n = 4,690 included initially) and from the Nun Study (n = 526 included initially) were analyzed, with antemortem information about global cognition and careful postmortem studies available from each case. Global cognition (final Mini-Mental State Examination scores [MMSE] and clinical ‘dementia’ status) was correlated with neuropathology, including the severity of neurofibrillary pathology (Braak stages and neurofibrillary tangle counts in cerebral neocortex). Analyses support three major findings: 1. Braak stage V cases and Braak VI cases are significantly different from each other in terms of associated antemortem cognition; 2. There is an appreciable range of pathology within the category of Braak stage VI based on tangle counts such that brains with the most neurofibrillary tangles in neocortex always had profound antemortem cognitive impairment; and 3. There was no nondemented case with final MMSE score of 30 within a year of life and Braak stage VI pathology. It may be inappropriate to combine Braak stages V and VI cases, particularly in patients with early cognitive dysfunction, since the two pathological stages appear to differ dramatically in terms of both pathological severity and antemortem cognitive status. There is no documented example of truly end-stage neurofibrillary pathology coexisting with intact cognition.
GRN; miRNA; microRNA; neurofibrillary tangles; neuropathology
Progressive language impairment is among the primary components of cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Because expressive and receptive language help to maintain emotional connections to caregivers and support the management of AD patients' functional needs, language plays a critical role in patients' emotional and physical health. Using data from a large prospective clinical trial comparing two doses of donepezil in patients with moderate to severe AD, we performed a post hoc analysis to determine whether a higher dose of donepezil was associated with greater benefits in language function.
In the original randomized, double-blind clinical trial, 1,467 patients with moderate to severe AD (baseline Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score 0 to 20) were randomized 2:1 to receive donepezil 23 mg/day or to continue on donepezil 10 mg/day for 24 weeks. In this post hoc analysis, the Severe Impairment Battery-Language scale (SIB-L) and a new 21-item SIB-derived language scale (SIB[lang]) were used to explore differences in language function between the treatment groups. Correlations between SIB-L and SIB[lang] scores and scores on the severe version of the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study-Activities of Daily Living inventory (ADCS-ADL-sev), the Clinician's Interview-Based Impression of Severity-plus caregiver input/Clinician's Interview-Based Impression of Change-plus caregiver input (CIBIS-plus/CIBIC-plus) and the MMSE were also investigated.
At week 24, treatment with donepezil 23 mg/day was associated with an improvement in language in the full intention-to-treat population, whereas language function declined in the group treated with donepezil 10 mg/day (SIB-L treatment difference 0.8, P = 0.0013; SIB[lang] treatment difference 0.8, P = 0.0009). Similar results were observed in a cohort of patients with more severe baseline disease (MMSE score 0 to 16). At baseline and week 24, correlations between the SIB-derived language scales and the ADCS-ADL-sev and CIBIC-plus were moderate, but the correlations were stronger between the language scales and the MMSE scores.
Patients with moderate to severe AD receiving donepezil 23 mg/day showed greater language benefits than those receiving donepezil 10 mg/day as measured by SIB-derived language assessments. Increasing the dose of donepezil to 23 mg/day may provide language benefits in patients with moderate to severe AD, for whom preservation of language abilities is especially critical.
ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00478205
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a slowly progressing form of dementia characterized in its earliest stages as a loss of memory. Individuals with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) may be in the earliest stages of the disease and represent an opportunity to identify pathological changes related to the progression of AD. Synaptic loss is one of the hallmarks of AD and associated with cognitive impairment. The inferior temporal gyrus (ITG) plays an important role in verbal fluency, a cognitive function affected early in the onset of AD. Unbiased stereology coupled with electron microscopy was used to quantify total synaptic numbers in lamina 3 of the ITG from short postmortem autopsy tissue harvested from subjects who died at different cognitive stages during the progression of AD. Individuals with aMCI had significantly fewer synapses (36%) compared to individuals with no cognitive impairment (NCI). Individuals with AD showed a loss of synapses very similar to the aMCI cohort. Synaptic numbers correlated highly with Mini Mental State Examination scores and a test of category verbal fluency. These results demonstrate that the inferior temporal gyrus is affected during the prodromal stage of the disease and may underlie some of the early AD-related clinical dysfunctions.
synapses; dementia; verbal fluency; language
Sex-linked factors may alter risk for neurodegenerative diseases. Definitive diagnoses are not established until autopsy, so neuropathological studies are critical. There have not been reported gender-related differences in neocortical Lewy bodies (LBs) using large multi-center autopsy series. We evaluated the associations between gender and pathologically characterized neurodegenerative diseases. Cases with Alzheimer's disease (AD), neocortical LBs, AD + neocortical LBs, or neither pathology were evaluated as separate groups. Results were corrected for possible confounders including age at death, smoking history, and education. The settings were the University of Kentucky Alzheimer's Disease Center and the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center (NACC) Registry autopsy series; 3,830 subjects met inclusion criteria. Patients with neocortical (“diffuse”) or intermediate (“limbic”) LB pathologies tended to be male (male:female odds ratios ∼2.9 with 95% CI 2.02–4.18). The preponderance of males dying with neocortical LB pathology was seen consistently across age groups and was not due to the potential confounders evaluated. By contrast, individuals dying with AD pathology were more likely to be female if dying over 80 (male:female odds ratio 0.66, 95% CI 0.50–0.88), but that tendency was not seen in individuals dying with AD pathology prior to age 80. Increased understanding of the male predominance in neocortical LB pathology may help guide clinicians, because males are more likely to be “undercalled” for neocortical LBs clinically, and females are more likely to be “overcalled” (P < 0.05 for both). Males are far more likely than females to die with neocortical LB pathology. This phenomenon may help guide medical practice including clinical trial study design.
DLB; Synuclein; Human; Dementia; Neuropathology
There is uncertainty regarding the association of cognitive decline in Alzheimer disease (AD) with classic histopathologic features—neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) and “neuritic” amyloid plaques (NPs). This uncertainty fuels doubts about the diagnostic importance of NFTs and NPs and leads to confusion regarding hypotheses of AD pathogenesis. Three hundred ninety subjects who underwent longitudinal premortem clinical workup and postmortem quantitative neuropathologic assessment served as the group to address this issue. Subjects with concomitant brain disease(s) were analyzed independently to more accurately assess the contribution of distinct pathologies to cognitive decline. More than 60% of patients of all age groups had important non-AD brain pathologies. However, subjects without superimposed brain diseases showed strong correlations between AD-type pathology counts (NFTs > NPs) and premortem Mini-Mental State Examination scores. The observed correlation was stronger in isocortex than in allocortex and was maintained across age groups including patients older than 90 years. A theoretical model is proposed in which our results are interpreted to support the “amyloid cascade hypothesis” of AD pathogenesis. Our data show that there are many important contributory causes to cognitive decline in older persons. However, NFTs and NPs should not be dismissed as irrelevant in AD based on clinicopathologic correlation.
Alzheimer disease; Amyloid; Cerebrovascular; Neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs); Plaques
Brains that have many neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) in medial temporal lobe structures (Braak Stages III or IV) but no cortical neuritic plaques (NPs) may be a diagnostic dilemma; they also raise questions about the “amyloid cascade hypothesis” of Alzheimer disease (AD) in which NFT development is thought to occur downstream of the development of amyloid plaques. To determine the clinical, demographic, and biological factors related to NFT+/NP− cases, we analyzed 26 NFT+/NP− patient brains identified from the University of Kentucky AD Center autopsy cohort (n = 502); most of these patients were at least 85 years old and lacked profound antemortem cognitive impairment. A subset of the cases had neurofibrillary tangles in the medulla oblongata. Aberrant TAR-DNA binding protein-43 immunohistochemical staining was seen in 5 of the 26 cases with the clinical diagnoses of AD or mild cognitive impairment. We also queried cases in the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center Registry (n = 5,108) and found 219 NFT+/NP− cases. Those patients had a relatively high likelihood of belonging to a birth cohort with the highest incidence of influenza infection during the 1918–1919 pandemic. This observation may link the pathogenesis in NFT+/NP− cases to encephalitis during childhood. We conclude that NFT+/NP- cases comprise approximately 5% of aged individuals in multiple data sets; these cases are not necessarily within the spectrum of AD.
Alzheimer disease; Amyloid; CERAD; Neurofibrillary tangle, Postencephalitic; tau
To determine the frequency and possible cognitive effect of histological Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in autopsied older nondemented individuals.
Senile plaques (SPs) and neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) were assessed quantitatively in 97 cases from 7 Alzheimer’s Disease Centers (ADCs). Neuropathological diagnoses of AD (npAD) were also made with four sets of criteria. Adjusted linear mixed models tested differences between participants with and without npAD on the quantitative neuropathology measures and psychometric test scores prior to death. Spearman rank-order correlations between AD lesions and psychometric scores at last assessment were calculated for cases with pathology in particular regions.
Washington University Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.
Ninety-seven nondemented participants who were age 60 years or older at death (mean = 84 years).
About 40% of nondemented individuals met at least some level of criteria for npAD; when strict criteria were used, about 20% of cases had npAD. Substantial overlap of Braak neurofibrillary stages occurred between npAD and no-npAD cases. Although there was no measurable cognitive impairment prior to death for either the no-npAD or npAD groups, cognitive function in nondemented aging appears to be degraded by the presence of NFTs and SPs.
Neuropathological processes related to AD in persons without dementia appear to be associated with subtle cognitive dysfunction and may represent a preclinical stage of the illness. By age 80–85 years, many nondemented older adults have substantial AD pathology.
preclinical Alzheimer’s disease; nondemented aging; neuropathological Alzheimer’s disease
The Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study - Clinical Global Impression of Change (ADCS-CGIC) was modified for use in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) trials and tested in the ADCS MCI randomized clinical trial of donepezil, vitamin E and placebo. We assessed feasibility for its use by determining whether or not: (1) it distinguished a medication effect at 6- and 12- months, (2) baseline demographic or clinical characteristics predicted change, (3) there was an association between MCI-CGIC and change in other clinical measures in order to evaluate external or concurrent validity.
We used a generalized estimating equations approach for ordinal outcome data to test the effects of treatment, baseline characteristics and change in clinical measures on the MCI-CGIC over 12 months, and ordinal logistic regression to assess the association between MCI-CGIC and change in clinical measures at 6 months and 12 months.
On the MCI-CGIC overall, 12.9% and 10.6% were rated as having improved, and 31.6% and 39.8% as having worsened over 6- and 12-months, respectively. The MCI-CGIC did not distinguish the donepezil or vitamin E groups from placebo at 6 and 12 months treatment. Variables at screening or baseline that were associated with worse CGIC scores over 6 and 12 months included white race, greater years of education, worse depression, dementia severity rating, cognitive, and daily activities scores, and lower memory domain scores on a neuropsychological battery. Rate of worsening on the MCI-CGIC over 12 months was associated with change on the AD Assessment Scale-cognitive (ADAS-cog) and on executive function. Worsening at 6 months and 12 months, separately, were associated with the corresponding change in ADAS-cog, ADL, BDI, MMSE, CDR-sb, memory, and executive function.
Change detected by the MCI-CGIC was associated with baseline clinical severity and with change in clinical ratings over 6 and 12 months, supporting the validity of a CGIC approach in MCI. The effect size of the donepezil-placebo difference was similar to that of other outcomes at 12 months. About 40% of MCI patients were judged worse and about 11% improved, consistent with clinical experience and other ratings.
Mild cognitive impairment; Alzheimer's disease; dementia; global impression of change; rating scales; donepezil; vitamin E; clinical trials
We evaluated the association between mini-mental status examination (MMSE) scores proximal to death and the values of 43 different clinical and pathological parameters. Studies were performed using data from 334 elderly, longitudinally evaluated research subjects who had undergone autopsy and satisfied inclusion criteria from an initial study group of 501. Interindividual variance in MMSE scores was used as a surrogate for the severity of cognitive impairment linked to aging (CILA). A statistical linear regression-based model provided a framework for assessing the parameters with significant, direct impact on CILA severity. Strong association between CILA and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology, especially isocortical neurofibrillary tangles, was evident. The pattern of association between AD lesion densities with cognitive impairment severity was biologically informative, with neuritic plaques having more impact in relatively high-functioning individuals. Abundant isocortical Lewy bodies tended to be an additive pathology correlating with final MMSE scores approximately 10 points lower. In a subset of cases we found evidence for association between TDP-43-related pathology and CILA severity, independent of AD or hippocampal sclerosis. There was no support for independent association between CILA severity and most evaluated indices including diffuse plaques, argyrophilic grains, heart disease, education level, apolipoprotein E alleles or diabetes.
ApoE; cognition; human; stroke; DLB; hippocampal sclerosis
We studied Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology in the precuneus and surrounding brain areas. Anatomically, the precuneus corresponds to the medial portion of human cerebral cortical Brodmann Area 7. This study utilized patients from the University of Kentucky Alzheimer’s Disease Center autopsy cohort. Data from 47 brains were used comprising patients of differing antemortem cognitive impairment severities, each with longitudinal clinical data and extensive neuropathological data. We assessed whether the precuneus and surrounding areas are differentially vulnerable to AD-type pathological lesions (diffuse amyloid plaques, neuritic amyloid plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles). Eleven areas of brain were evaluated for each case: amygdala, hippocampal CA1, subiculum, entorhinal cortex, frontal cortex, superior and middle temporal gyri, inferior parietal lobule, occipital cortex, posterior cingulate gyrus, Brodmann Area 31, and the precuneus proper. Like other areas of neocortex, the precuneus demonstrated increased diffuse and neuritic amyloid plaques early in the evolution in AD, and increased neurofibrillary tangles late in AD. Correcting for the antemortem cognitive status of the patients, there was no evidence of an increase in the density of AD-type pathology in the precuneus or neighboring areas relative to other areas of cerebral neocortex. Our results are not consistent with the idea that the precuneus is involved in a special way with plaques or tangles relative to other areas of neocortex.
Precuneus; Posterior cingulate; Parietal; MCI; Cognition; Neuropathology; Pathology; Tissue
The success of future neurodegenerative disease (ND) therapies depends partly on accurate antemortem diagnoses. Relatively few prior studies have been performed on large, multicenter-derived datasets to test the accuracy of final clinical ND diagnoses in relation to definitive neuropathological findings. Data were analyzed from the University of Kentucky Alzheimer's Disease Center autopsy series and from the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center (NACC) registry. NACC data are derived from 31 different academic medical centers, each with strong clinical expertise and infrastructure pertaining to NDs. The final clinical diagnoses were compared systematically with subsequent neuropathology diagnoses. Among subjects meeting final inclusion criteria (N = 2,861 for NACC Registry data), the strength of the associations between clinical diagnoses and subsequent ND diagnoses was only moderate. This was particularly true in the case of dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB): the sensitivity of clinical diagnoses was quite low (32.1% for pure DLB and 12.1% for Alzheimer's disease (AD + DLB) although specificity was over 95%. AD clinical diagnoses were more accurate (85.0% sensitivity and 51.1% specificity). The accuracy of clinical DLB diagnoses became somewhat lower over the past decade, due apparently to increased “over-calling” the diagnosis in patients with severe cognitive impairment. Furthermore, using visual hallucinations, extrapyramidal signs, and/or fluctuating cognition as part of the clinical criteria for DLB diagnosis was of minimal utility in a group (N = 237) with high prevalence of severe dementia. Our data suggest that further work is needed to refine our ability to identify specific aging-related brain disease mechanisms, especially in DLB.
The cerebral neuropathology of Type 2 diabetes (CNDM2) has not been positively defined. This review includes a description of CNDM2 research from before the ‘Pubmed Era’. Recent neuroimaging studies have focused on cerebrovascular and white matter pathology. These and prior studies about cerebrovascular histopathology in diabetes are reviewed. Evidence is also described for and against the link between CNDM2 and Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis. To study this matter directly, we evaluated data from University of Kentucky Alzheimer’s Disease Center (UK ADC) patients recruited while non-demented and followed longitudinally. Of patients who had come to autopsy (N=234), 139 met inclusion criteria. These patients provided the basis for comparing the prevalence of pathological and clinical indices between well-characterized cases with (N=50) or without (N=89) the premortem diagnosis of diabetes. In diabetics, cerebrovascular pathology was more frequent and Alzheimer-type pathology was less frequent than in non-diabetics. Finally, a series of photomicrographs demonstrates histopathological features (including clinical–radiographical correlation) observed in brains of persons that died after a history of diabetes. These preliminary, correlative, and descriptive studies may help develop new hypotheses about CNDM2. We conclude that more work should be performed on human material in the context of CNDM2.
Diabetes; Alzheimer’s; Cerebrovascular; Stroke; Cognition; Clinicopathological; Radiographical; Pathology; Review
Multiple arguments for considering routine dementia screening have been presented. Furthermore, dementia diagnoses are widely unrecognized. As a result, persons with dementia are missing important clinical care and treatment interventions. By distinction, the problems of defining, diagnosing, and treating mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are not yet resolved, and MCI is not ready for a screening recommendation. Dementia screening approaches, including cognitive testing and functional assessment, must be evaluated on their scientific merits, including sensitivity and specificity for recognizing affected individuals in at-risk populations. Screening tests must be “cost-worthy”, with the benefits of true-positive test results justifying the costs of testing and resolving false-positive cases, with due consideration for proper diagnostic evaluation and potential harms. With the tremendous number of new cases projected in the near future and the expected emergence of beneficial therapies, considerably more research is needed to develop more efficient screening systems.
Dementia; Alzheimer’s disease; Screening; Diagnosis; Case-finding; Mild cognitive impairment
Variations in sortilin-related receptor (SORL1) expression and function have been implicated in Alzheimers Disease (AD). Here, to gain insights into SORL1, we evaluated SORL1 expression and splicing as a function of AD and AD neuropathology, neural gene expression and a candidate single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP).
To identify SORL1 splice variants, we scanned each of the 46 internal SORL1 exons in human brain RNA samples and readily found SORL1 isoforms that lack exon 2 or exon 19. Quantification in a case-control series of the more abundant isoform lacking exon 2 (delta-2-SORL1), as well as the "full-length" SORL1 (FL-SORL1) isoform containing exon 2 showed that expression of FL-SORL1 was reduced in AD individuals. Moreover, FL-SORL1 was reduced in cognitively intact individuals with significant AD-like neuropathology. In contrast, the expression of the delta-2-SORL1 isoform was similar in AD and non-AD brains. The expression of FL-SORL1 was significantly associated with synaptophysin expression while delta-2-SORL1 was modestly enriched in white matter. Lastly, FL-SORL1 expression was associated with rs661057, a SORL1 intron one SNP that has been associated with AD risk. A linear regression analysis found that rs661057, synaptophysin expression and AD neuropathology were each associated with FL-SORL1 expression.
These results confirm that FL-SORL1 expression declines in AD and with AD-associated neuropathology, suggest that FL-SORL1 declines in cognitively-intact individuals with AD-associated neuropathology, identify a novel SORL1 splice variant that is expressed similarly in AD and non-AD individuals, and provide evidence that an AD-associated SNP is associated with SORL1 expression. Overall, these results contribute to our understanding of SORL1 expression in the human brain.