To identify potential genetic modifiers contributing to the phenotypic variability that is detected in patients with repeat expansions in chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72), we investigated the frequency of these expansions in a cohort of 334 subjects previously found to carry mutations in genes known to be associated with a spectrum of neurodegenerative diseases.
A 2-step protocol, with a fluorescent PCR and a repeat-primed PCR, was used to determine the presence of hexanucleotide expansions in C9ORF72. For one double mutant, we performed Southern blots to assess expansion sizes, and immunohistochemistry to characterize neuropathology.
We detected C9ORF72 repeat expansions in 4 of 334 subjects (1.2% [or 1.8% of 217 families]). All these subjects had behavioral phenotypes and also harbored well-known pathogenic mutations in either progranulin (GRN: p.C466LfsX46, p.R493X, p.C31LfsX35) or microtubule-associated protein tau (MAPT: p.P301L). Southern blotting of one double mutant with a p.C466LfsX46 GRN mutation demonstrated a long repeat expansion in brain (>3,000 repeats), and immunohistochemistry showed mixed neuropathology with characteristics of both C9ORF72 expansions and GRN mutations.
Our findings indicate that co-occurrence of 2 evidently pathogenic mutations could contribute to the pleiotropy that is detected in patients with C9ORF72 repeat expansions. These findings suggest that patients with known mutations should not be excluded from further studies, and that genetic counselors should be aware of this phenomenon when advising patients and their family members.
To reveal the underlying mechanisms responsible for the regional vulnerability to amyloid-β (Aβ) accumulation prior to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, we studied distribution of Aβ, apolipoprotein E (apoE), synaptic markers, and other molecules involved in Aβ metabolism in multiple brain areas of non-demented individuals. Twelve brain regions including neocortical, limbic, and subcortical areas were dissected from brains of non-demented individuals and extracted according to increasing insolubility by a sequential three-step method. The levels of Aβ40, Aβ42, apoE, APP, APP-CTFβ, BACE1, presenilin-1, neprilysin, insulysin, LRP1, LDLR, synaptophysin, PSD95, GFAP, and lactate were determined by ELISAs or enzymatic assays. The regional distribution of apoE showed moderate-to-strong inverse correlation with levels of Aβ, especially insoluble Aβ40. On the other hand, the regional distributions of synaptic markers, particularly PSD95, showed moderate-to-strong positive correlation with levels of Aβ, especially soluble Aβ40. The regional correlations between Aβ and LRP1, GFAP, or lactate were mild-to-moderate. Moderate-to-strong positive regional correlations were observed between apoE and GFAP or lactate and between PSD95 and LRP1. No significant regional correlations were detected between Aβ and APP, APP-CTFβ, BACE1, or presenilin-1, those involved in Aβ production. There were no significant negative regional correlations between Aβ and two major Aβ degrading enzymes, neprilysin and insulysin. These regional correlations remained consistent regardless of the degree of Aβ accumulation. The regional vulnerability to Aβ accumulation may be due to a net balance between two competing processes: (1) synapses involved in promoting the initial Aβ accumulation and (2) astrocyte-derived apoE involved in preventing Aβ accumulation.
Alzheimer’s disease; Amyloid-β; Regional vulnerability; Apolipoprotein E; Synapses
The new criteria for preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) proposed 3 stages: abnormal levels of β-amyloid (stage 1); stage 1 plus evidence of brain injury (stage 2); and stage 2 plus subtle cognitive changes (stage 3). However, a large group of subjects with normal β-amyloid biomarkers have evidence of brain injury; we labeled them as “suspected non-Alzheimer pathway” (sNAP) group. The characteristics of the sNAP group are poorly understood.
Using the preclinical AD classification, 430 cognitively normal subjects from the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging who underwent brain MR, 18fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) and Pittsburgh compound B (PiB) positron emission tomography (PET) were evaluated with FDG PET regional volumetrics, MR regional brain volumetrics, white matter hyperintensity (WMH) volume and number of infarcts. We examined cross-sectional associations across AD preclinical stages, those with all biomarkers normal, and the sNAP group.
The sNAP group had a lower proportion (14%) with APOE ε4 genotype than the preclinical AD stages 2 + 3. The sNAP group did not show any group differences compared to stages 2 + 3 of the preclinical AD group on measures of FDG PET regional hypometabolism, MR regional brain volume loss, cerebrovascular imaging lesions, vascular risk factors, imaging changes associated with α-synucleinopathy or physical findings of parkinsonism.
Cognitively normal persons with brain injury biomarker abnormalities, with or without abnormal levels of β-amyloid, were indistinguishable on a variety of imaging markers, clinical features and risk factors. The initial appearance of brain injury biomarkers that occurs in cognitively normal persons with preclinical AD may not depend on β-amyloidosis.
Alzheimer’s disease; PET imaging; MR imaging; Epidemiology
We analyzed the baseline and 3-year T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging data of 110 amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) participants with minimal hippocampal atrophy at baseline from the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study group (ADCS) MCI Donepezil/Vitamin E trial. 46 subjects converted to AD (MCIc) while 64 remained stable (MCInc). We used the radial distance technique to examine the differences in lateral ventricle shape and size between MCIc and MCInc and the associations between ventricular enlargement and cognitive decline.
MCIc group had significantly larger frontal and right body/occipital horns relative to MCInc at baseline and significantly larger bilateral frontal, body/occipital and left temporal horns at follow-up. Global cognitive decline measured with ADAScog and MMSE and decline in activities of daily living (ADL) were associated with posterior lateral ventricle enlargement. Decline in ADAScog and ADL were associated with left temporal and decline in MMSE with right temporal horn enlargement. After correction for baseline hippocampal volume decline in ADL showed a significant association with right frontal horn enlargement. Executive decline was associated with right frontal and left temporal horn enlargement.
Alzheimer’s disease; AD; mild cognitive impairment; MCI; imaging; MRI; brain atrophy; ventricular enlargement
To model the temporal trajectory of β-amyloid accumulation using serial amyloid PET imaging.
Participants, aged 70–92 years, were enrolled in either the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging (n = 246) or the Mayo Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (n = 14). All underwent 2 or more serial amyloid PET examinations. There were 205 participants classified as cognitively normal and 55 as cognitively impaired (47 mild cognitive impairment and 8 Alzheimer dementia). We measured baseline amyloid PET-relative standardized uptake values (SUVR) and, for each participant, estimated a slope representing their annual amyloid accumulation rate. We then fit regression models to predict the rate of amyloid accumulation given baseline amyloid SUVR, and evaluated age, sex, clinical group, and APOE as covariates. Finally, we integrated the amyloid accumulation rate vs baseline amyloid PET SUVR association to an amyloid PET SUVR vs time association.
Rates of amyloid accumulation were low at low baseline SUVR. Rates increased to a maximum at baseline SUVR around 2.0, above which rates declined—reaching zero at baseline SUVR above 2.7. The rate of amyloid accumulation as a function of baseline SUVR had an inverted U shape. Integration produced a sigmoid curve relating amyloid PET SUVR to time. The average estimated time required to travel from an SUVR of 1.5–2.5 is approximately 15 years.
This roughly 15-year interval where the slope of the amyloid SUVR vs time curve is greatest and roughly linear represents a large therapeutic window for secondary preventive interventions.
Non-amnestic mild cognitive impairment (naMCI), a putative precursor of vascular and other non-Alzheimer’s disease dementias, is hypothesized to have a vascular etiology. We investigated the association of cardiac disease with amnestic (aMCI) and non-amnestic (naMCI) MCI.
A prospective, population-based, cohort study with a median 4.0 years of follow-up.
Olmsted County, Minnesota.
Participants were evaluated at baseline and every 15 months using the Clinical Dementia Rating scale, a neurological evaluation, and neuropsychological testing. A diagnosis of normal cognition, MCI, or dementia was made by consensus. Cardiac disease at baseline was assessed from the participant’s medical records.
Main outcome measures
Incident MCI, aMCI, naMCI.
Among 1,450 subjects free of MCI or dementia at baseline, 366 developed MCI. Cardiac disease was associated with an increased risk of naMCI (hazard ratio [HR] 95% confidence interval; 1.77 [1.16–2.72]). However, the association varied by sex (P for interaction = .02). Cardiac disease was associated with an increased risk of naMCI (HR, 3.07 [1.58–5.99]) in women, but not in men (HR, 1.16 [0.68–1.99]. Cardiac disease was not associated with any MCI or aMCI.
Cardiac disease is an independent risk factor for naMCI, within sex comparisons showed a stronger association in women. Prevention and management of cardiac disease and vascular risk factors may reduce the risk of naMCI.
Maintaining and improving quality of life has become a major focus in geriatric medicine, but the oldest old have received limited attention in clinical investigations. We aimed to investigate the relationship between self-perceived and caregiver-perceived quality of life (QOL), cognitive functioning, and depressive symptoms in the oldest old.
This IRB-approved prospective study recruited community dwellers aged 90–99 years old. Collected data included neurological evaluation, DSM III-R criteria for dementia, Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), Dementia Rating Scale (DRS), Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), Record of Independent Living (ROIL), and QOL assessment using the Linear Analogue Self Assessment (LASA).
Data on 144 subjects (56 cognitively normal (normal), 13 mild cognitive impairment (MCI), 41 dementia (DEM), 34 dementia with stroke and parkinsonism (DEMSP)) over a three-year period were analyzed. Mean ages ranged from 93 to 94 years, and the majority were female with at least high school education. Overall functional ability was higher in groups without dementia (p < 0.0001). All subjects reported high overall QOL (range 6.76–8.3 out of 10), regardless of cognitive functioning. However, caregivers perceived the subjects’ overall QOL to be lower with increasing severity of cognitive impairment (p < 0.0001). Lower GDS scores correlate with higher self-perceived overall QOL (ρ = −0.38, p < 0.0001).
In our community sample of the oldest old, there was a fairly high level of overall QOL, whether or not cognitive impairment exists. Individuals perceive their QOL better than caregivers do, and the difference in subjects’ and caregivers’ perception is more pronounced for the groups with dementia. QOL is more strongly correlated with depressive symptoms than with dementia severity.
geriatric; well being; cognition; depression; dementia; stroke; parkinsonism; MCI
We aimed to determine if there is an association between teaching and the development of progressive speech and language disorders (SLDs). Occupation was compared between 100 patients with a progressive SLD, 404 Alzheimer’s dementia patients, and the 2008 US census. In SLDs the most common occupation was teacher (22%), versus 8% in Alzheimer’s dementia. The odds ratio of being a teacher in SLDs compared to Alzheimer’s dementia was 3.4 (95% CI=1.87, 6.17). No differences were observed in the frequency of other occupations. The frequency of teachers was higher in SLDs compared to the US census; odds ratio of 6.9 (95% CI=4.3, 11.1). Farming, forestry and fishing occupations were more frequent in SLDs compared to the US census. We identified an association between progressive SLDs and the occupation of teaching. Since teaching is a communication demanding occupation, teachers may be more sensitive to the development of speech and language impairments.
Alzheimer’s; dementia; aphasia; teacher; occupation
To examine alternative models of defining and characterizing successful aging.
A retrospective cohort study
Olmsted County, MN.
560 community-dwelling non-demented adults, aged 65 years and older.
Three models were developed. Each model examined subtests in four cognitive domains: memory, attention/executive function, language, and visual-spatial skills. A composite domain score was generated for each of the four domains. In Model 1, a global z-score was further generated from the four cognitive domains, and subjects with mean global z-score in the top 10% were classified as “successful agers” whereas those in the remaining 90% were classified as “typical agers”. In Model 2, subjects with all 4 domain scores above the 50th percentile were classified as “successful agers.” In Model 3, a primary neuropsychological variable was selected from each domain, and subjects whose score remained above minus 1 SD compared to norms for young adults were labeled successful agers. Validation tests were conducted to determine the ability of each model to predict survival and conversion to mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
Model 1 showed 65% lower mortality in successful agers compared to typical agers, and also a 25% lower conversion rate to MCI.
Model 1 was most strongly associated with longevity and cognitive decline; as such, it can be useful in investigating various predictors of successful aging, including plasma level, APOE genotype, and neuroimaging measurements.
successful aging; optimal aging; longevity; cognitive decline
We aimed to assess associations between clinical, imaging, pathological and genetic features and frontal lobe asymmetry in behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD). Volumes of the left and right dorsolateral, medial and orbital frontal lobes were measured in 80 bvFTD subjects and subjects were classified into three groups according to the degree of asymmetry (asymmetric left, asymmetric right, symmetric) using cluster analysis. The majority of subjects were symmetric (65%), with 20% asymmetric left and 15% asymmetric right. There were no clinical differences across groups, although there was a trend for greater behavioral dyscontrol in right asymmetric compared to left asymmetric subjects. More widespread atrophy involving the parietal lobe was observed in the symmetric group. Genetic features differed across groups with symmetric frontal lobes associated with C9ORF72 and tau mutations, while asymmetric frontal lobes were associated with progranulin mutations. These findings therefore suggest that neuroanatomical patterns of frontal lobe atrophy in bvFTD are influenced by specific gene mutations.
Frontotemporal dementia; frontal lobes; MRI; asymmetry; microtubule associated protein tau; progranulin; C9ORF72; pathology
Four subtypes of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 immunoreactive inclusions have been described (types A–D). Of these four subtypes, motor neuron disease is more commonly associated with type B pathology, but has also been reported with type A pathology. We have noted, however, the unusual occurrence of cases of type C pathology having corticospinal tract degeneration. We aimed to assess the severity of corticospinal tract degeneration in a large cohort of cases with type C (n = 31). Pathological analysis included semi-quantitation of myelin loss of fibres of the corticospinal tract and associated macrophage burden, as well as axonal loss, at the level of the medullary pyramids. We also assessed for motor cortex degeneration and fibre loss of the medial lemniscus/olivocerebellar tract. All cases were subdivided into three groups based on the degree of corticospinal tract degeneration: (i) no corticospinal tract degeneration; (ii) equivocal corticospinal tract degeneration; and (iii) moderate to very severe corticospinal tract degeneration. Clinical, genetic, pathological and imaging comparisons were performed across groups. Eight cases had no corticospinal tract degeneration, and 14 cases had equivocal to mild corticospinal tract degeneration. Nine cases, however, had moderate to very severe corticospinal tract degeneration with myelin and axonal loss. In these nine cases, there was degeneration of the motor cortex without lower motor neuron degeneration or involvement of other brainstem tracts. These cases most commonly presented as semantic dementia, and they had longer disease duration (mean: 15.3 years) compared with the other two groups (10.8 and 9.9 years; P = 0.03). After adjusting for disease duration, severity of corticospinal tract degeneration remained significantly different across groups. Only one case, without corticospinal tract degeneration, was found to have a hexanucleotide repeat expansion in the C9ORF72 gene. All three groups were associated with anterior temporal lobe atrophy on MRI; however, the cases with moderate to severe corticospinal tract degeneration showed right-sided temporal lobe asymmetry and greater involvement of the right temporal lobe and superior motor cortices than the other groups. In contrast, the cases with no or equivocal corticospinal tract degeneration were more likely to show left-sided temporal lobe asymmetry. For comparison, the corticospinal tract was assessed in 86 type A and B cases, and only two cases showed evidence of corticospinal tract degeneration without lower motor neuron degeneration. These findings confirm that there exists a unique association between frontotemporal lobar degeneration with type C pathology and corticospinal tract degeneration, with this entity showing a predilection to involve the right temporal lobe.
TDP-43 type C; corticospinal tract; MRI; semantic dementia; right temporal lobe
In 2010, the authors published a hypothetical model of the major biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The model was received with interest because we described the temporal evolution of AD biomarkers in relation to each other and to the onset and progression of clinical symptoms. In the interim, evidence has accumulated that supports the major assumptions of this model. Evidence has also appeared that challenges some of the assumptions underlying our original model. Recent evidence has allowed us to modify our original model. Refinements include indexing subjects by time rather than clinical symptom severity; incorporating inter-subject variability in cognitive response to the progression of AD pathophysiology; modifications of the specific temporal ordering of some biomarkers; and, recognition that the two major proteinopathies underlying AD biomarker changes, Aβ and tau, may be initiated independently in late onset AD where we hypothesize that an incident Aβopathy can accelerate an antecedent tauopathy.
The appearance of β-amyloidosis and brain injury biomarkers in cognitively normal (CN) persons is thought to define risk for the future development of cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease (AD), but their interaction is poorly understood.
To test the hypothesis that the joint presence of β-amyloidosis and brain injury biomarkers would lead to more rapid neurodegeneration.
Longitudinal Cohort Study
Population-based Mayo Clinic Study of Aging.
191 CN persons (median age 77, range 71–93) in the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging who underwent MR, FDG PET and PiB PET imaging at least twice 15 months apart. Subjects were grouped according to the recommendations of the NIA-AA Preclinical AD criteria, based on the presence of β-amyloidosis, defined as a PiB PET SUVr >1.5, alone (Stage 1) or with brain injury (stage 2+3), defined as hippocampal atrophy or FDG hypometabolism. We also studied a group of MCI (n=17) and dementia (n=9) patients from the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging or the Mayo Alzheimer Center with similar follow-up times who had had comparable imaging and who all had PiB PET SUVr >1.5.
Main Outcome Measures
Rate of change of cortical volume on volumetric MR scans and rate of change of glucose metabolism on FDG PET scans.
There were 25 CN subjects with both high PiB retention and low hippocampal volume or FDG hypometabolism at baseline (Preclinical AD stages 2+3). On follow-up scans, the Preclinical AD stages 2+3 subjects had greater loss of medial temporal lobe volume and greater glucose hypometabolism in the medial temporal lobe compared to other CN groups. The changes were similar to the cognitively impaired participants. Extra-temporal regions did not show similar changes.
Higher rates of medial temporal neurodegeneration occurred in CN individuals who, on their initial scans, had abnormal levels of both β-amyloid and brain injury biomarkers.
Alzheimer’s disease; PET imaging; MR imaging; Epidemiology
In a population-based case-control study, we examined whether moderate and high caloric intakes are differentially associated with the odds of having mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The sample was derived from the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging in Olmsted County, Minnesota. Non-demented study participants aged 70–92 years (1,072 cognitively normal persons and 161 subjects with MCI) reported their caloric consumption within 1 year of the date of interview by completing a Food Frequency Questionnaire. An expert consensus panel classified each subject as either cognitively normal or having MCI based on published criteria. We conducted multivariable logistic regression analyses to compute odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) after adjusting for age, sex, education, depression, medical comorbidity, and body mass index. We also conducted stratified analyses by apolipoprotein E ε4 genotype status. Analyses were conducted in tertiles of caloric intake: 600 to <1,526 kcals per day (reference group); 1,526 to 2,143 kcals per day (moderate caloric intake group); and >2,143 kcals per day (high caloric intake group). In the primary analysis, there was no significant difference between the moderate caloric intake group and the reference group (OR 0.87, 95% CI 0.53–1.42, p = 0.57). However, high caloric intake was associated with a nearly two-fold increased odds of having MCI (OR 1.96, 95% CI 1.26–3.06, p = 0.003) as compared to the reference group. Therefore, high caloric intake was associated with MCI but not moderate caloric intake. This association is not necessarily a cause-effect relationship.
aging; APOE ε4 genotype; caloric intake; mild cognitive impairment; population-based
The clinical features of dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) during wakefulness are well known. Other than REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), only limited data exists on other sleep disturbances and disorders in DLB. We sought to characterize the polysomnographic (PSG) findings in a series of DLB patients with sleep-related complaints.
Retrospective study of patients with DLB who underwent clinical PSG at Mayo Clinic Rochester or Mayo Clinic Jacksonville over an almost 11 year span for evaluation of dream enactment behavior, excessive nocturnal movements, sleep apnea, hypersomnolence, or insomnia. The following variables were analyzed: respiratory disturbance index (RDI) in disordered breathing events/hour, periodic limb movement arousal index (PLMAI), arousals for no apparent reason (AFNAR), total arousal index (TAI), presence of REM sleep without atonia (RSWA), and percent sleep efficiency (SE).
Data on 78 patients (71M, 7F) were analyzed. The mean age was 71 ± 8 years. Seventy-five (96%) patients had histories of recurrent dream enactment during sleep with 83% showing confirmation of RSWA +/- dream enactment during PSG. Mean RDI = 11.9 ± 5.8, PLMAI = 5.9 ± 8.5, AFNARI = 10.7 ± 12.0, and TAI = 26.6 ± 17.4. SE was <80% in 72% of the sample, <70% in 49%, and <60% in 24%. In patients who did not show evidence of significant disordered breathing (23 with RDI<5), 62% of arousals were AFNARs. In those patients who had significant disordered breathing (55 with RDI ≥ 5), 36% of arousals were AFNARs. Six patients underwent evaluations with PSG plus MSLT. Two patients had mean initial sleep latencies less than five minutes, and both had RDI<5. No patient had any sleep onset rapid eye movement periods. Nineteen patients have undergone neuropathologic examination, and 18 have had limbic- or neocortical-predominant Lewy body pathology. One had progressive supranuclear palsy, but no REM sleep was recorded in prior PSG.
In patients with DLB and sleep-related complaints, several sleep disturbances in addition to RBD are frequently present. In this sample, about three quarters had a significant number of arousals not accounted for by a movement or breathing disturbance, and the primary sleep disorders do not appear to entirely account for the poor sleep efficiency in DLB, especially in those without a significant breathing disorder. Further studies are warranted to better understand the relationship between disturbed sleep, arousal and DLB; such characterization may provide insights into potential avenues of treatment of symptoms which could impact quality of life.
Sleep disorders; REM sleep behavior disorder; dementia with Lewy bodies; synucleinopathy
Expansions of the non-coding GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat in the chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72) gene were recently identified as the long sought-after cause of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) on chromosome 9p. In this study we aimed to determine whether the length of the normal - unexpanded - allele of the GGGGCC repeat in C9ORF72 plays a role in the presentation of disease or affects age at onset in C9ORF72 mutation carriers. We also studied whether the GGGGCC repeat length confers risk or affects age at onset in FTD and ALS patients without C9ORF72 repeat expansions. C9ORF72 genotyping was performed in 580 FTD, 995 ALS and 160 FTD-ALS patients and 1444 controls, leading to the identification of 211 patients with pathogenic C9ORF72 repeat expansions and an accurate quantification of the length of the normal alleles in all patients and controls. No meaningful association between the repeat length of the normal alleles of the GGGGCC repeat in C9ORF72 and disease phenotype or age at onset was observed in C9ORF72 mutation carriers or non-mutation carriers.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Frontotemporal Dementia; C9ORF72; Repeat-expansion disease; Association study
Recently, we evaluated two patients with corticobasal syndrome (CBS) who reported symptom onset after limb immobilization. Our objective was to investigate the association between trauma, immobilization and CBS.
The charts of forty-four consecutive CBS patients seen in the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer Disease Research Center were reviewed with attention to trauma and limb immobilization.
10 CBS patients (23%) had immobilization or trauma on the most affected limb preceding the onset or acceleration of symptoms. The median age at onset was 61. Six patients manifested their first symptoms after immobilization from surgery or fracture with one after leg trauma. Four patients had pre-existing symptoms of limb dysfunction but significantly worsened after immobilization or surgery.
23 percent of patients had immobilization or trauma of the affected limb. This might have implications for management of CBS, for avoiding injury, limiting immobilization and increasing movement in the affected limb.
Corticobasal syndrome; plasticity; immobilization
Memory deficits are prominent features of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The genetic architecture underlying these memory deficits likely involves the combined effects of multiple genetic variants operative within numerous biological pathways. In order to identify functional pathways associated with memory impairment, we performed a pathway enrichment analysis on genome-wide association data from 742 Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) participants. A composite measure of memory was generated as the phenotype for this analysis by applying modern psychometric theory to item-level data from the ADNI neuropsychological test battery. Using the GSA-SNP software tool, we identified 27 canonical, expertly-curated pathways with enrichment (FDR-corrected p-value < 0.05) against this composite memory score. Processes classically understood to be involved in memory consolidation, such as neurotransmitter receptor-mediated calcium signaling and long-term potentiation, were highly represented among the enriched pathways. In addition, pathways related to cell adhesion, neuronal differentiation and guided outgrowth, and glucose- and inflammation-related signaling were also enriched. Among genes that were highly-represented in these enriched pathways, we found indications of coordinated relationships, including one large gene set that is subject to regulation by the SP1 transcription factor, and another set that displays co-localized expression in normal brain tissue along with known AD risk genes. These results 1) demonstrate that psychometrically-derived composite memory scores are an effective phenotype for genetic investigations of memory impairment and 2) highlight the promise of pathway analysis in elucidating key mechanistic targets for future studies and for therapeutic interventions.
memory; psychometrics; Alzheimer’s disease; mild cognitive impairment; pathway analysis; genome-wide association study
To estimate the incidence of and to characterize cognitive and imaging findings associated with incident amyloid PET positivity.
Cognitively normal (CN) participants in the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging who had 2 or more serial imaging assessments, which included amyloid PET, FDG-PET, and MRI at each time point, were eligible for analysis (n = 207). Twelve subjects with Alzheimer disease dementia were included for comparison.
Of the 123 CN participants who were amyloid-negative at baseline, 26 met criteria for incident amyloid PET positivity. Compared to the 69 subjects who remained stable amyloid-negative, on average these 26 did not differ on any imaging, demographic, or cognitive variables except amyloid PET (by definition) and task-free functional connectivity, which at baseline was greater in the incident amyloid-positive group. Eleven of the 26 incident amyloid-positive subjects had abnormal hippocampal volume, FDG-PET, or both at baseline.
The incidence of amyloid PET positivity is approximately 13% per year among CN participants over age 70 sampled from a population-based cohort. In 15/26 (58%), incident amyloid positivity occurred prior to abnormalities in FDG-PET and hippocampal volume. However, 11/26 (42%) incident amyloid-positive subjects had evidence of neurodegeneration prior to incident amyloid positivity. These 11 could be subjects with combinations of preexisting non-Alzheimer pathophysiologies and tau-mediated neurodegeneration who newly entered the amyloid pathway. Our findings suggest that both “amyloid-first” and “neurodegeneration-first” biomarker profile pathways to preclinical AD exist.
A large number of longitudinal studies of population-based ageing cohorts are in progress internationally, but the insights from these studies into the risk and protective factors for cognitive ageing and conditions like mild cognitive impairment and dementia have been inconsistent. Some of the problems confounding this research can be reduced by harmonising and pooling data across studies. COSMIC (Cohort Studies of Memory in an International Consortium) aims to harmonise data from international cohort studies of cognitive ageing, in order to better understand the determinants of cognitive ageing and neurocognitive disorders.
Longitudinal studies of cognitive ageing and dementia with at least 500 individuals aged 60 years or over are eligible and invited to be members of COSMIC. There are currently 17 member studies, from regions that include Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America. A Research Steering Committee has been established, two meetings of study leaders held, and a website developed. The initial attempts at harmonising key variables like neuropsychological test scores are in progress.
The challenges of international consortia like COSMIC include efficient communication among members, extended use of resources, and data harmonisation. Successful harmonisation will facilitate projects investigating rates of cognitive decline, risk and protective factors for mild cognitive impairment, and biomarkers of mild cognitive impairment and dementia. Extended implications of COSMIC could include standardised ways of collecting and reporting data, and a rich cognitive ageing database being made available to other researchers. COSMIC could potentially transform our understanding of the epidemiology of cognitive ageing, and have a world-wide impact on promoting successful ageing.
Cohort studies; Cognitive ageing; Data harmonisation; Dementia; International consortium; Mild cognitive impairment
To investigate the effect of intellectual and physical activity on biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathophysiology and cognition in a non-demented elderly population. The biomarkers evaluated were brain Aβ-amyloid load via PIB-PET, neuronal dysfunction via FDG-PET and neurodegeneration via Structural-MRI.
We studied 515 non-demented (428 cognitively normal and 87 MCI) participants in the population based Mayo Clinic Study of Aging who completed a 3T MRI, PET scans, APOE genotype, had lifestyle activity measures and cognition data available. The imaging measures computed were global PiB-PET uptake; global FDG-PET and MRI based hippocampal volume. We consolidated activity variables into lifetime intellectual, current intellectual and current physical activities. We used a global cognitive Z-score as a measure of cognition. We applied two independent methods – partial correlation analysis adjusted for age and gender and path analysis using structural equations to evaluate the associations between lifestyle activities, imaging biomarkers and global cognition.
None of the lifestyle variables correlated with the biomarkers and the path associations between lifestyle variables and biomarkers were not significant (p>0.05). On the other hand, all the biomarkers were correlated with global cognitive Z-score (p<0.05) and the path associations between (lifetime and current) intellectual activities and global Z-score were significant (p<0.01).
Intellectual and physical activity lifestyle factors were not associated with AD biomarkers but intellectual lifestyle factors explained variability in the cognitive performance in this non-demented population. This study provides evidence that lifestyle activities may delay the onset of dementia but do not significantly influence the expression of AD pathophysiology.
Alzheimer’s disease; Imaging biomarkers; Lifestyle Activities
Secondary prevention trials in subjects with preclinical Alzheimer disease may require documentation of brain amyloidosis. The identification of inexpensive and noninvasive screening variables that can identify individuals who have significant amyloid accumulation would reduce screening costs.
A total of 483 cognitively normal (CN) individuals, aged 70–92 years, from the population-based Mayo Clinic Study of Aging, underwent Pittsburgh compound B (PiB)–PET imaging. Logistic regression determined whether age, sex, APOE genotype, family history, or cognitive performance was associated with odds of a PiB retention ratio >1.4 and >1.5. Area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) evaluated the discrimination between PiB-positive and -negative subjects. For each characteristic, we determined the number needed to screen in each age group (70–79 and 80–89) to identify 100 participants with PiB >1.4 or >1.5.
A total of 211 (44%) individuals had PiB >1.4 and 151 (31%) >1.5. In univariate and multivariate models, discrimination was modest (AUROC ∼0.6–0.7). Multivariately, age and APOE best predicted odds of PiB >1.4 and >1.5. Subjective memory complaints were similar to cognitive test performance in predicting PiB >1.5. Indicators of PiB positivity varied with age. Screening APOE ε4 carriers alone reduced the number needed to screen to enroll 100 subjects with PIB >1.5 by 48% in persons aged 70–79 and 33% in those aged 80–89.
Age and APOE genotype are useful predictors of the likelihood of significant amyloid accumulation, but discrimination is modest. Nonetheless, these results suggest that inexpensive and noninvasive measures could significantly reduce the number of CN individuals needed to screen to enroll a given number of amyloid-positive subjects.
ApoE ε4 is associated with adverse health conditions that negatively impact the quality of life (QOL). The relationship between ApoE ε4 and QOL has not been explored in the oldest old. Our study aimed to examine ApoE in the oldest old, and explore its association with QOL.
Cross-sectional cohort study.
A medium sized community in Olmsted County, Minnesota, USA.
90–99 year old individuals living independently or in long term care environments.
We collected demographic information and measured cognitive function (Short Test of Mental Status [STMS], Mini-Mental State Examination [MMSE], Mattis Dementia Rating Scale [DRS]), QOL (Linear Analogue Self Assessment [LASA]) and ApoE distribution. Subjects were classified as cognitively normal, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), dementia (DEM), or dementia with stroke and/or parkinsonism (DEMSP). Regression model was used to assess the predictors of QOL.
121 subjects (45 cognitively normal, 13 MCI, 34 DEM, 29 DEMSP) aged 90–99,106 (87.6 %) females, were included. Frequency of ApoE ε3 allele was highest [194 (80.2%): ε2/3 18, ε3/3 77, ε3/4 22] followed by ApoE ε4 [25 (10.3%): ε2/4 3, ε3/4 22] and ApoE ε2 [23 (9.5%; ε2/2 1, ε2/3 18, ε2/4 3]. None of the subjects carried ApoE ε4/4 genotype. QOL was similar between ApoE ε4 carrier and non-carriers. Physical well-being, emotional well-being, intellectual well-being, social connectedness and coping ability were positively associated with QOL, whereas male gender, DEMSP, pain frequency and pain severity were negatively associated.
The most common ApoE in the oldest old was ε3/3 genotype and ε3 allele. No association was found between ApoE ε4 and QOL. However, those with high physical, emotional and intellectual well being, social connectedness and coping ability had the highest overall QOL.
Well being; oldest old; apolipoprotein E
Atypical variants of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) have been pathologically defined based on the distribution of neurofibrillary tangles; hippocampal sparing (HpSp) AD shows minimal involvement of the hippocampus and limbic predominant (LP) AD shows neurofibrillary tangles restricted to the medial temporal lobe. We aimed to determine whether MRI patterns of atrophy differ across HpSp AD, LP AD and typical AD, and whether imaging could be a useful predictor of pathological subtype during life.
In this case-control study, we identified 177 patients who had been prospectively followed in the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, were demented during life, had AD pathology at autopsy (Braak stage ≥ IV, intermediate-high probability AD) and an antemortem MRI. Cases were assigned to one of three pathological subtypes (HpSp n=19, typical n=125, or LP AD n=33) based on neurofibrillary tangle counts and their ratio in association cortices to hippocampus, without reference to neuronal loss. Voxel-based morphometry and atlas-based parcellation were used to compare patterns of grey matter loss across groups, and to controls.
The severity of medial temporal and cortical grey matter atrophy differed across subtypes. The most severe medial temporal atrophy was observed in LP AD, followed by typical AD, and then HpSp AD. Conversely, the most severe cortical atrophy was observed in HpSp AD, followed by typical AD, and then LP AD. A ratio of hippocampal-to-cortical volume provided the best discrimination across all three AD subtypes. The majority of typical AD (98/125;78%) and LP AD (31/33;94%) subjects, but only 8/19 (42%) of the HpSp AD subjects, presented with a dominant amnestic syndrome.
Patterns of atrophy on MRI differ across the pathological subtypes of AD, suggesting that MR regional volumetrics reliably track the distribution of neurofibrillary tangle pathology and can predict pathological subtype during life.
US National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Aging)
Using data from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) population, we examined (1) cross-sectional relationships between amyloid deposition, hypometabolism, and cognition, and (2) associations between amyloid and hypometabolism measurements and longitudinal cognitive measurements.
We examined associations between mean cortical florbetapir uptake, mean 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose–positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) within a set of predefined regions, and Alzhiemer’s Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS-cog) performance in 426 ADNI participants (126 normal, 162 early mild cognitive impairment [EMCI], 85 late MCI [LMCI], 53 Alzheimer disease [AD] patients). For a subset of these (76 normal, 81 LMCI) we determined whether florbetapir and FDG-PET were associated with retrospective decline in longitudinal ADAS-cog measurements.
Twenty-nine percent of normal subjects, 43% of EMCI patients, 62% of LMCI patients, and 77% of AD patients were categorized as florbetapir positive. Florbetapir was negatively associated with concurrent FDG and ADAS-cog in both MCI groups. In longitudinal analyses, florbetapir-positive subjects in both normal and LMCI groups had greater ongoing ADAS-cog decline than those who were florbetapir negative. However, in normal subjects, florbetapir positivity was associated with greater ADAS-cog decline than FDG, whereas in LMCI, FDG positivity was associated with greater decline than florbetapir.
Although both hypometabolism and β-amyloid (Aβ) deposition are detectable in normal subjects and all diagnostic groups, Aβ showed greater associations with cognitive decline in normal participants. In view of the minimal cognitive deterioration overall in this group, this suggests that amyloid deposition has an early and subclinical impact on cognition that precedes metabolic changes. At moderate and later stages of disease (LMCI/AD), hypometabolism becomes more pronounced and more closely linked to ongoing cognitive decline.