To investigate the contribution of biomarkers of glucose homeostasis (adiponectin, glucose, glycated albumin, and insulin levels) and inflammation (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein and lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 levels) to the risk of developing Alzheimer disease (AD) and all-cause dementia.
Prospective cohort study.
Dementia-free Framingham Heart Study participants had sera measured for these biomarkers at the 19th biennial examination (1985–1988) and were followed up prospectively for the development of AD and all-cause dementia.
Eight hundred forty (541 women, median age of 76 years) subjects participated in the study.
Main Outcome Measures
We used sex-pooled and sex-specific multivariable Cox proportional hazards models adjusted for age, education, body mass index, recent change in weight, APOE ε4 allele status, and plasma docosahexaenoic acid levels to determine association of these biomarkers with the development of all-cause dementia and AD.
Over a mean follow-up period of 13 years, 159 persons developed dementia (including 125 with AD). After adjustment for other risk factors, only adiponectin in women was associated with an increased risk of all-cause dementia (hazard ratio [HR], 1.29; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.00–1.66; P=.054) and AD (HR, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.00–1.76; P=.050) per 1-SD increase in adiponectin level. Women with baseline adiponectin values more than the median had a higher risk of all-cause dementia (HR, 1.63; 95% CI, 1.03–2.56; P=.04) and AD (HR, 1.87; 95% CI, 1.13–3.10; P=.01) as compared with those with values less than the median.
In women, increased plasma adiponectin levels are an independent risk factor for the development of both all-cause dementia and AD.
Previous studies have identified effects of age and vascular risk factors on brain injury in elderly individuals. We aimed to establish whether the effects of high blood pressure in the brain are evident as early as the fifth decade of life.
In an investigation of the third generation of the Framingham Heart Study, we approached all participants in 2009 to ask whether they would be willing to undergo MRI. Consenting patients underwent clinical assessment and cerebral MRI that included T1-weighted and diffusion tensor imaging to obtain estimates of fractional anisotropy, mean diffusivity, and grey-matter volumes. All images were coregistered to a common minimum deformation template for voxel-based linear regressions relating fractional anisotropy, mean diffusivity, and grey-matter volumes to age and systolic blood pressure, with adjustment for potential confounders.
579 (14·1%) of 4095 participants in the third-generation cohort (mean age 39·2 years, SD 8·4) underwent brain MRI between June, 2009 and June, 2010. Age was associated with decreased fractional anisotropy and increased mean diffusivity in almost all cerebral white-matter voxels. Age was also independently associated with reduced grey-matter volumes. Increased systolic blood pressure was linearly associated with decreased regional fractional anisotropy and increased mean diffusivity, especially in the anterior corpus callosum, the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculi, and the fibres that project from the thalamus to the superior frontal gyrus. It was also strongly associated with reduced grey-matter volumes, particularly in Brodmann’s area 48 on the medial surface of the temporal lobe and Brodmann’s area 21 of the middle temporal gyrus.
Our results suggest that subtle vascular brain injury develops insidiously during life, with discernible effects even in young adults. These findings emphasise the need for early and optimum control of blood pressure.
National Institutes of Health and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institute on Aging; and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Heart failure is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and cerebrovascular disease. In the absence of heart failure, we hypothesized that left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF), an indicator of cardiac dysfunction, would be associated with pre-clinical brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and neuropsychological markers of ischemia and AD in the community. Brain MRI, cardiac MRI, neuropsychological, and laboratory data were collected on 1114 Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort participants free from clinical stroke or dementia (40–89 years, 67±9; 54% women). Neuropsychological and neuroimaging markers of brain aging were related to cardiac MRI-assessed LVEF. In multivariable-adjusted linear regressions, LVEF was not associated with any brain aging variable (p-values>0.15). However, LVEF quintile analyses yielded several U-shape associations. Compared to the referent (Q2–Q4), the lowest quintile (Q1) LVEF was associated with a lower mean cognitive performance, including Visual Reproduction Delayed Recall (β= −0.27, p<0.001) and Hooper Visual Organization Test (β= −0.27, p<0.001). Compared to the referent, the highest quintile (Q5) LVEF values also were associated with lower mean cognitive performances, including Logical Memory Delayed Recall (β= −0.18, p=0.03), Visual Reproduction Delayed Recall (β= −0.17, p=0.03), Trail Making Test Part B-Part A (β= −0.22, p=0.02) and Hooper Visual Organization Test (Q5 β= −0.20, p=0.02). Findings were similar when analyses were repeated excluding prevalent cardiovascular disease. In conclusion, although our observational cross-sectional data cannot establish causality, they suggest a non-linear association between LVEF and measures of accelerated cognitive aging.
The genetic background of atrial fibrillation (AF) in whites and African Americans is largely unknown. Genes in cardiovascular pathways have not been systematically investigated.
Methods and Results
We examined a panel of approximately 50,000 common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 2,095 cardiovascular candidate genes and AF in three cohorts with participants of European (n=18,524; 2,260 cases) or African American descent (n=3,662; 263 cases) in the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute's Candidate Gene Association Resource. Results in whites were followed up in the German Competence Network for AF (n=906, 468 cases). The top result was assessed in relation to incident ischemic stroke in the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology Stroke Consortium (n= 19,602 whites, 1544 incident strokes). SNP rs4845625 in the IL6R gene was associated with AF (relative risk (RR) C allele, 0.90; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.85–0.95; P=0.0005) in whites, but did not reach statistical significance in African Americans (RR, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.72–1.03; P=0.09). The results were comparable in the German AF Network replication, (RR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.57–0.89; P=0.003). No association between rs4845625 and stroke was observed in whites. The known chromosome 4 locus near PITX2 in whites also was associated with AF in African Americans (rs4611994, hazard ratio, 1.40; 95% CI, 1.16–1.69; P=0.0005).
In a community-based cohort meta-analysis, we identified genetic association in IL6R with AF in whites. Additionally, we demonstrated that the chromosome 4 locus known from recent genome-wide association studies in whites is associated with AF in African Americans.
atrial fibrillation; single nucleotide polymorphism; epidemiology; cohort study; race/ethnicity
Multiple lines of evidence suggest that specific subtypes of age-related cataract (ARC) and Alzheimer disease (AD) are related etiologically. To identify shared genetic factors for ARC and AD, we estimated co-heritability of quantitative measures of cataract subtypes with AD-related brain MRI traits among 1,249 members of the Framingham Eye Study who had a brain MRI scan approximately ten years after the eye exam. Cortical cataract (CC) was found to be co-heritable with future development of AD and with several MRI traits, especially temporal horn volume (THV, ρ = 0.24, P<10−4). A genome-wide association study using 187,657 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for the bivariate outcome of CC and THV identified genome-wide significant association with CTNND2 SNPs rs17183619, rs13155993 and rs13170756 (P<2.6×10−7). These SNPs were also significantly associated with bivariate outcomes of CC and scores on several highly heritable neuropsychological tests (5.7×10−9≤P<3.7×10−6). Statistical interaction was demonstrated between rs17183619 and APP SNP rs2096488 on CC (P = 0.0015) and CC-THV (P = 0.038). A rare CTNND2 missense mutation (G810R) 249 base pairs from rs17183619 altered δ-catenin localization and increased secreted amyloid-β1–42 in neuronal cell culture. Immunohistopathological analysis of lens tissue obtained from two autopsy-confirmed AD subjects and two non-AD controls revealed elevated expression of δ-catenin in epithelial and cortical regions of lenses from AD subjects compared to controls. Our findings suggest that genetic variation in delta catenin may underlie both cortical lens opacities in mid-life and subsequent MRI and cognitive changes that presage the development of AD.
We hypothesized that inflammatory markers are cross-sectionally and longitudinally associated with neuropsychological indicators of early ischemia and Alzheimer's disease.
Framingham Offspring Study participants, free of clinical stroke or dementia (n = 1,878; 60 ± 9 years; 54% women), underwent neuropsychological assessment and ascertainment of 11 inflammatory markers. Follow-up neuropsychological assessments (6.3 ± 1.0 years) were conducted on 1,352 of the original 1,878 participants.
Multivariable linear regression related the inflammatory markers to cross-sectional performance and longitudinal change in neuropsychological performances. Secondary models included a twelfth factor, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), available on a subset of the sample (n = 1,393 cross-sectional; n = 1,213 longitudinal). Results suggest a few modest cross-sectional inflammatory and neuropsychological associations, particularly for tests assessing visual organization (C-reactive protein, p = 0.007), and a few modest relations between inflammatory markers and neuropsychological change, particularly for executive functioning (TNF-α, p = 0.004). Secondary analyses suggested that inflammatory markers were cross-sectionally (TNF-α, p = 0.004) related to reading performance.
Our findings are largely negative, but suggest that specific inflammatory markers may have limited associations with poorer cognition and reading performance among community-dwelling adults. Because of multiple testing concerns, our limited positive findings are offered as hypothesis generating and require replication in other studies.
Memory; Executive functioning; Inflammation; Cognition; WRAT-3 reading
Diabetic and prediabtic states, including insulin resistance, fasting hyperglycemia, and hyperinsulinemia, are associated with metabolic dysregulation. These components have been individually linked to increased risks of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. We aimed to comprehensively relate all of the components of metabolic dysregulation to cognitive function and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in middle-aged adults.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Framingham Offspring participants who underwent volumetric MRI and detailed cognitive testing and were free of clinical stroke and dementia during examination 7 (1998–2001) constituted our study sample (n = 2,439; 1,311 women; age 61 ± 9 years). We related diabetes, homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), fasting insulin, and glycohemoglobin levels to cross-sectional MRI measures of total cerebral brain volume (TCBV) and hippocampal volume and to verbal and visuospatial memory and executive function. We serially adjusted for age, sex, and education alone (model A), additionally for other vascular risk factors (model B), and finally, with the inclusion of apolipoprotein E-ε4, plasma homocysteine, C-reactive protein, and interleukin-6 (model C).
We observed an inverse association between all indices of metabolic dysfunction and TCBV in all models (P < 0.030). The observed difference in TCBV between participants with and without diabetes was equivalent to approximately 6 years of chronologic aging. Diabetes and elevated glycohemoglobin, HOMA-IR, and fasting insulin were related to poorer executive function scores (P < 0.038), whereas only HOMA-IR and fasting insulin were inversely related to visuospatial memory (P < 0.007).
Metabolic dysregulation, especially insulin resistance, was associated with lower brain volumes and executive function in a large, relatively healthy, middle-aged, community-based cohort.
Higher plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) is an established risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The relation between tHcy and carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) at the internal carotid artery (ICA)/bulb-IMT and common carotid artery (CCA)-IMT has not been systematically examined. Since the ICA/bulb segment is more prone to plaque formation than the CCA segment, differential associations with tHcy at these sites might suggest mechanisms of tHcy action.
We examined the cross-sectional segment-specific relations of tHcy to ICA/bulb-IMT and CCA-IMT in 2,499 participants from the Framingham Offspring Study, free of cardiovascular disease.
In multivariable linear regression analysis, ICA/bulb-IMT was significantly higher in the fourth tHcy quartile category compared to the other quartile categories, in both the age- and sex-adjusted and in the multivariable-adjusted model (P for trend <0.0001 and <0.01, respectively). We observed a significant age by tHcy interaction for ICA/bulb-IMT (P=0.03) and therefore stratified the analyses by median age (58 years). There was a significant positive trend between tHcy and ICA/bulb-IMT in individuals 58 years of age or older (P-trend <0.01), but not in the younger individuals (P-trend=0.24). For CCA-IMT, no significant trends were observed in any of the analyses.
The segment-specific association between elevated tHcy levels and ICA/bulb-IMT suggests an association between tHcy and plaque formation.
carotid artery; intima-media thickness; homocysteine; atherosclerosis; Framingham Offspring Study
Intima–media thickness of the walls of the common carotid artery and internal carotid artery may add to the Framingham risk score for predicting cardiovascular events.
We measured the mean intima–media thickness of the common carotid artery and the maximum intima–media thickness of the internal carotid artery in 2965 members of the Framingham Offspring Study cohort. Cardiovascular-disease outcomes were evaluated for an average follow-up of 7.2 years. Multivariable Cox proportional-hazards models were generated for intima–media thickness and risk factors. We evaluated the reclassification of cardiovascular disease on the basis of the 8-year Framingham risk score category (low, intermediate, or high) after adding intima–media thickness values.
A total of 296 participants had a cardiovascular event. The risk factors of the Framingham risk score predicted these events, with a C statistic of 0.748 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.719 to 0.776). The adjusted hazard ratio for cardiovascular disease with a 1-SD increase in the mean intima–media thickness of the common carotid artery was 1.13 (95% CI, 1.02 to 1.24), with a nonsignificant change in the C statistic of 0.003 (95% CI, 0.000 to 0.007); the corresponding hazard ratio for the maximum intima–media thickness of the internal carotid artery was 1.21 (95% CI, 1.13 to 1.29), with a modest increase in the C statistic of 0.009 (95% CI, 0.003 to 0.016). The net reclassification index increased significantly after addition of intima–media thickness of the internal carotid artery (7.6%, P<0.001) but not intima–media thickness of the common carotid artery (0.0%, P = 0.99). With the presence of plaque, defined as intima–media thickness of the internal carotid artery of more than 1.5 mm, the net reclassification index was 7.3% (P = 0.01), with an increase in the C statistic of 0.014 (95% CI, 0.003 to 0.025).
The maximum internal and mean common carotid-artery intima–media thicknesses both predict cardiovascular outcomes, but only the maximum intima–media thickness of (and presence of plaque in) the internal carotid artery significantly (albeit modestly) improves the classification of risk of cardiovascular disease in the Framingham Offspring Study cohort. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.)
This article focuses on the effects of operational differences in case ascertainment on estimates of prevalence and incidence of cognitive impairment/dementia of the Alzheimer type. Experience and insights are discussed by investigators from the Framingham Heart Study, the East Boston Senior Health Project, the Chicago Health and Aging Project, the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging, the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, and the Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study. There is a general consensus that the single most important factor regulating prevalence estimates of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the severity of cognitive impairment used for case ascertainment. Studies that require a level of cognitive impairment in which persons are unable to provide self-care will have much lower estimates than studies aimed at identifying persons in the earliest stages of AD. There is limited autopsy data from the above-mentioned epidemiologic studies to address accuracy in the diagnosis of etiologic subtype, namely the specification of AD alone or in combination with other types of pathology. However, other community-based cohort studies show that many persons with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) meet pathologic criteria for AD, and a large minority of persons without dementia or MCI also meets pathologic criteria for AD, thereby suggesting that the number of persons who would benefit from an effective secondary prevention intervention is probably higher than the highest published prevalence estimates. Improved accuracy in the clinical diagnosis of AD is anticipated with the addition of molecular and structural biomarkers in the next generation of epidemiologic studies.
Alzheimer’s disease; Dementia; Mild cognitive impairment; Cognitive impairment not dementia; Diagnostic criteria; Population-based; Prevalence, Incidence
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings of large white matter hyperintensities (LWMH), decreased brain volume and silent cerebral infarcts (SCI) are subclinical indices of brain ischemia and aging. Although the pathophysiology of these findings remains uncertain, extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling, a process regulated by matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and their inhibitors (TIMPs), may be implicated.
We evaluated the cross-sectional relations of circulating MMP-9 and TIMP-1 to these MRI indices in 583 stroke and dementia-free, Framingham Offspring participants (mean age 57 years, 58% women). Using multivariable regression MMP-9 (detectable versus non-detectable) and TIMP-1 (modeled as sex-specific quartiles) were related to LWMH (>1 S.D. above age-specific mean; yes/no), SCI (yes/no) and total brain volume (ratio of parenchymal to intracranial volume, TCBVr).
Mean TCBVr was 0.78 (S.D. 0.03), 13% of subjects had LWMH and 12% had SCI. Detectable MMP-9 was associated with higher prevalence of LWMH (OR 2.09, 95%confidence interval (CI) 1.00–4.37), but not with TCBVr. TIMP-1 was associated with a high prevalence of LWMH (OR for Q4 versus Q1–3: 1.83, 95%CI 1.06–3.18) and with lower mean TCBVr (Q4 associated with 0.17 S.D. units lower value relative to Q1–3; p = 0.04). Neither biomarker was associated with SCI.
Our findings are preliminary but if confirmed in further studies, suggest a pathophysiological role for the MMP/TIMP pathway in processes of brain ischemia and aging.
MMPs; Brain MRI; Framingham; Brain aging
The goal of this study was to compare internal carotid artery (ICA) intima-media thickness (IMT) with common carotid artery (CCA) IMT as global markers of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Cross-sectional measurements of the mean CCA IMT and maximum ICA IMT were made on ultrasound images acquired from the Framingham Offspring cohort (n = 3316; mean age, 58 years; 52.7% women). Linear regression models were used to study the associations of the Framingham risk factors with CCA and ICA IMT. Multivariate logistic regression models and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis were used to compare the associations of prevalent CVD with CCA and ICA IMT and determine sensitivity and specificity.
The association between age and the mean CCA IMT corresponded to an increase of 0.007 mm/y; the increase was 0.037 mm/y for the ICA IMT. Framingham risk factors accounted for 28.6% and 27.5% of the variability in the CCA and ICA IMT, respectively. Age and gender contributed 23.5% to the variability of the CCA IMT and 22.5% to that of the ICA IMT, with the next most important factor being systolic blood pressure (1.9%) for the CCA IMT and smoking (1.6%) for the ICA IMT. The CCA IMT and ICA IMT were statistically significant predictors of prevalent CVD, with the ICA IMT having a larger area under the ROC curve (0.756 versus 0.695).
Associations of risk factors with CCA and ICA IMT are slightly different, and both are independently associated with prevalent CVD. Their value for predicting incident cardiovascular events needs to be compared in outcome studies.
atherosclerosis; carotid artery; disease prevalence; intima-media thickness; risk factors
Biomarkers of multiple pathophysiological pathways have been related to incident atrial fibrillation (AF), but their predictive ability remains controversial.
Methods and Results
In 3120 Framingham cohort participants (mean age 58.4±9.7, 54% women), we related 10 biomarkers representing inflammation (C-reactive protein [CRP], fibrinogen), neurohormonal activation (B-type natriuretic peptide [BNP], N-terminal pro-atrial natriuretic peptide), oxidative stress (homocysteine), renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (renin, aldosterone), thrombosis and endothelial function (D-dimer, plasminogen-activator inhibitor 1 [PAI-1]), and microvascular damage (urine albumin excretion, n=2673) with incident AF (n=209, 40% women) over a median follow-up of 9.7 years (range 0.05–12.8 years).
In multivariable-adjusted analyses, the biomarker panel was associated with incident AF (P<0.0001). In stepwise selection models (P<0.01 for entry and retention), log-transformed BNP, hazard ratio [HR] per standard deviation 1.62 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.41–1.85, P<0.0001), and CRP, HR 1.25 (95% CI 1.07–1.45, P=0.004), were chosen.
The addition of BNP to variables recently combined in a risk score for AF increased the C-statistic from 0.78 (95%CI 0.75–0.81 to 0.80 (95% CI 0.78–0.83), and showed an integrated discrimination improvement of 0.03 (95% CI 0.02–0.04, P<0.0001) with 34.9% relative improvement in reclassification analysis. The combined analysis of BNP and CRP did not appreciably improve risk prediction over the model incorporating BNP in addition to the risk factors.
BNP is a predictor of incident AF and improves risk stratification based on well-established clinical risk factors. Whether knowledge of BNP concentrations may be used to target individuals at risk of AF for more intensive monitoring or primary prevention needs further investigation.
atrial fibrillation; biomarkers; epidemiology; cohort; risk assessment
We sought to validate a recently published risk algorithm for incident atrial fibrillation (AF) in independent cohorts and other race/ethnic groups.
We evaluated the performance of a Framingham Heart Study (FHS)-derived risk algorithm modified for 5-year incidence of AF in the FHS (n=4764 participants) and two geographically and ethnically diverse cohorts: AGES (Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility-Reykjavik Study, n=4238), and CHS (Cardiovascular Health Study, n=5410 of whom 874 (16.2%) were African Americans (AA)); aged 45–95 years. The risk algorithm included age, sex, body mass index, systolic blood pressure, electrocardiographic PR-interval, hypertension treatment, and heart failure.
We observed 1359 incident AF events in 100,074 person-years of follow-up. Unadjusted five-year event-rates differed by cohort (AGES 12.8 cases/1000 person-years; CHS whites 22.7 cases/1000 person-years; FHS 4.5 cases/1000 person-years) and race/ethnicity (CHS AA 18.4 cases/1000 person-years).
The strongest risk factors in all samples were age and heart failure. The relative risks for incident AF associated with risk factors were comparable across cohorts and race groups. After recalibration for baseline incidence and risk factor distribution, the Framingham algorithm performed reasonably well in all samples (AGES C-statistic 0.67, 95% confidence interval 0.64–0.71; CHS whites, 0.68, 0.66–0.70; CHS AA 0.66, 0.61–0.71). Risk factors combined in the algorithm explained between 47.0% (AGES) and 63.6% (FHS) of the population attributable risk.
Risk of incident AF in community-dwelling whites and AA can be assessed reliably by routinely available and potentially modifiable clinical variables. Seven risk factors accounted for up to 64% percent of risk.
atrial fibrillation; risk score; epidemiology; cohort study; race/ethnicity
Cardiac dysfunction is associated with neuroanatomic and neuropsychological changes in aging adults with prevalent cardiovascular disease (CVD), theoretically because systemic hypoperfusion disrupts cerebral perfusion, contributing to subclinical brain injury. We hypothesized that cardiac function, as measured by cardiac index, would be associated with pre-clinical brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and neuropsychological markers of ischemia and Alzheimer’s disease in the community.
Methods and Results
Brain MRI, cardiac MRI, neuropsychological, and laboratory data were collected on 1504 Framingham Offspring Cohort participants free from clinical stroke, transient ischemic attack, or dementia (61±9 years; 54% women). Neuropsychological and brain MRI variables were related to cardiac MRI-assessed cardiac index (cardiac output/body surface area). In multivariable-adjusted models, cardiac index was positively related to total brain volume (P=0.03) and information processing speed (P=0.02) and inversely related to lateral ventricular volume (P=0.048). When participants with clinically prevalent CVD were excluded, the relation between cardiac index and total brain volume remained (P=0.02). Post-hoc comparisons revealed that participants in the bottom cardiac index tertile (values<2.54) and middle cardiac index tertile (values between 2.54 and 2.92) had significantly lower brain volumes (P=0.04) than participants in the top cardiac index tertile (values>2.92).
Although observational data cannot establish causality, our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that decreasing cardiac function, even at normal cardiac index levels, is associated with accelerated brain aging.
brain; cardiac output; epidemiology; imaging; neuropsychology
Previous studies have demonstrated an association between white matter hyperintensities (WMH) and cognitive performance primarily in Caucasian samples, limiting generalizability to other ethnic and racial groups. This study investigated the association of WMH and cognition in an ethnic and racial minority cohort (Omni) of the Framingham Heart Study and compared these results to the Caucasian (Offspring) cohort.
Quantitative brain MRI and neuropsychological evaluations were performed on stroke- and dementia-free participants. Cognitive assessment included verbal memory, visuospatial memory and organization, language, and executive functioning. Linear regression models were conducted to assess the association between WMH and cognitive function.
The Omni group presented with demographic factors that significantly differed from those of the Offspring group: they were younger, but had more stroke risk factors such as hypertension. In the Offspring group, WMH volume was significantly associated with poorer performance on tests of executive function and visual organization. No significant associations between WMH and cognitive measures were found in the Omni group, but no differences (significant interaction terms) were seen between the regression coefficients.
The Omni cohort had greater variability in factors that may mediate the association of WMH and cognition. More research is needed to investigate how stroke risk factors impact on the occurrence of WMH and its association with cognition in more diverse cohorts.
White matter hyperintensities; Cognition; Executive function; Framingham Heart Study; Magnetic resonance imaging; Cultural/ethnic diversity
Midlife obesity has been associated with an increased risk of dementia. The underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Our aim was to examine the cross-sectional association of body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), waist to hip ratio (WHR) and CT-based measures of subcutaneous (SAT) and visceral (VAT) adipose tissue with various MRI-markers of brain aging in middle-aged community adults.
Participants from the Framingham Offspring cohort were eligible if in addition to having measures of BMI, WC, WHR, SAT and VAT, they had undergone a volumetric brain MRI scan with measures of total brain volume (TCBV), temporal horn volume (THV), white matter hyperintensity volume (WMHV) and MRI-defined brain infarcts (BI). All analyses were adjusted for age, sex and time interval between abdominal CT and brain MRI.
In a sample of 733 community participants (mean age 60 years, 53% women), we observed an inverse association of BMI (estimate by standard deviation unit ± standard error =−0.27±0.12,p=0.02), WC (−0.30±0.12,p=0.01), WHR (−0.37±0.12,p=0.02), SAT (−0.23±0.11,p=0.04) and VAT (−0.36±0.12,p=0.002) with TCBV, independent of vascular risk factors. The association between VAT and TCBV was the strongest and most robust, and was also independent of BMI (−0.35±0.15,p=0.02) and insulin resistance (−0.32±0.13,p=0.01). When adjusting for C-reactive protein levels the associations were attenuated (−0.17±0.13,p=0.17 for VAT). No consistently significant association was observed between the anthropometric or CT-based abdominal fat measures and THV, WMHV or BI.
In middle-aged community participants we observed a significant inverse association of anthropometric and CT-based measures of abdominal, especially visceral, fat with total brain volume.
Rationale: Although obstructive sleep apnea is associated with physiological perturbations that increase risk of hypertension and are proatherogenic, it is uncertain whether sleep apnea is associated with increased stroke risk in the general population.
Objectives: To quantify the incidence of ischemic stroke with sleep apnea in a community-based sample of men and women across a wide range of sleep apnea.
Methods: Baseline polysomnography was performed between 1995 and 1998 in a longitudinal cohort study. The primary exposure was the obstructive apnea–hypopnea index (OAHI) and outcome was incident ischemic stroke.
Measurements and Main Results: A total of 5,422 participants without a history of stroke at the baseline examination and untreated for sleep apnea were followed for a median of 8.7 years. One hundred ninety-three ischemic strokes were observed. In covariate-adjusted Cox proportional hazard models, a significant positive association between ischemic stroke and OAHI was observed in men (P value for linear trend: P = 0.016). Men in the highest OAHI quartile (>19) had an adjusted hazard ratio of 2.86 (95% confidence interval, 1.1–7.4). In the mild to moderate range (OAHI, 5–25), each one-unit increase in OAHI in men was estimated to increase stroke risk by 6% (95% confidence interval, 2–10%). In women, stroke was not significantly associated with OAHI quartiles, but increased risk was observed at an OAHI greater than 25.
Conclusions: The strong adjusted association between ischemic stroke and OAHI in community-dwelling men with mild to moderate sleep apnea suggests that this is an appropriate target for future stroke prevention trials.
sleep apnea; stroke; epidemiology
To determine if the presence of the apoE4 allele, a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, interacts with cerebrovascular risk factors to produce a disproportionate impairment in neuropsychological performance and alterations in structural morphometry as measured by magnetic resonance imaging.
1,995 participants from the community based Framingham Offspring Cohort participants (mean age 61; 1,063 women) underwent neuropsychological testing and structural magnetic resonance imaging in 1999-2002.
Multivariate linear regression was used to estimate the relationships between Framingham Stroke Risk Profile scores, neuropsychological variables and magnetic resonance imaging measures; interaction terms were included to examine modification of these relationships by the presence of the apoE4 allele. All analyses were cross sectional.
We found significant interactions between the presence of the apoE4 allele and the top sex-specific quartile of the Stroke Risk Profile and their effects on verbal memory (p=<0.001), verbal organization (p=<0.001), non-verbal memory (p=0.015), as well as set shifting and complex attention (p=0.005). Systolic blood pressure was the only individual risk factor significantly linked to these cognitive measures. With the exception of lateral ventricular volume, there were no significant interactions between presence of apoE4, the top sex-specific quartile of the Stroke Risk Profile and any of the magnetic resonance imaging variables.
The apoE4 allele exacerbates the effects of cerebrovascular risk factors on neuropsychological function. This relationship appears to be driven by systolic blood pressure, suggesting that treatment of high systolic blood pressure could potentially reduce risk of cognitive impairment among those already at increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Extensive efforts have been aimed at understanding the genetic underpinnings of complex diseases that affect humans. Numerous genome-wide association studies have assessed the association of genes with human disease; including the Framingham Heart Study (FHS), which genotyped 550,000 SNPs in 9,000 participants. The success of such efforts requires high rates of consent by participants, which is dependent on ethical oversight, communications, and trust between research participants and investigators. To study this we calculated percentages of participants who consented to collection of DNA and to various uses of their genetic information in two FHS cohorts between 2002 and 2009. The data included rates of consent for providing a DNA sample, creating an immortalized cell line, conducting research on various genetic conditions including those that might be considered sensitive, and for notifying participants of clinically significant genetic findings were above 95%. Only with regard to granting permission to share DNA or genetic findings with for-profit companies was the consent rate below 95%. We concluded that the FHS has maintained high rates of retention and consent for genetic research that has provided the scientific freedom to establish collaborations and address a broad range of research questions. We speculate that our high rates of consent have been achieved by establishing frequent and open communications with participants that highlight extensive oversight procedures. Our approach to maintaining high consent rates via ethical oversight of genetic research and communication with study participants is summarized in this report and should be of help to other studies engaged in similar types of research.
epidemiology; genetics; genome-wide association; medical ethics; population study
To examine whether there are sex-specific associations between brain MRI measures and neuropsychological test performance.
Differences in cardiovascular risk factors (CVRF) have been linked to decreased total cerebral brain volume (TCBV) and white matter hyperintensities (WMH). Although brain morphology has been related to cognitive performance, few studies have addressed sex-specific effects in this relationship.
Framingham Offspring who were stroke and dementia-free underwent a brain MRI scan and neuropsychological (NP) testing (n=2,085; 978 men). Factor analysis identified four domain-specific neuropsychological factors. MRI participants were divided into four MRI subgroups based on measures of TCBV and combinations of the presence of WMH and silent cerebral infarcts (≥3mm; SCI).
Overall, the relationship between MRI and NP measures was similar between the sexes. The exception was that only men showed a positive relationship between executive function (EF) and cerebrovascular disease defined as large white matter hyperintensity volume plus SCI. This finding was attributed only among men with FSRP scores > 90th percentile range (p=0.0019).
Measures of brain atrophy and subclinical markers of vascular disease showed that sex does not significantly alter the relationship between MRI and NP, except among men and women who are at high risk for stroke; these men show poorer performance on EF, whereas the women do not.
Sex; Brain MRI; Cognition; Neuropsychological tests
Data relating parental history of stroke to stroke risk in offspring remain surprisingly inconsistent, largely due to heterogeneity of study design, and the absence of verified, as opposed to historical, data on parental stroke status.
Methods and Results
We determined if prospectively verified parental occurrence of stroke increased incident stroke risk among offspring in a community-based sample by studying 3443 stroke-free Framingham Offspring (53% female, mean age 48±14 years) with verified parental stroke status (by age 65 years), who attended the 1st, 3rd, 5th and/or 7th Offspring examinations, and were followed for up to 8 years after each baseline examination. Over up to 11,029 such person-observation periods (77,534 person-years), we documented 106 parental strokes by age 65, and 128 offspring strokes (74 parental and 106 offspring strokes were ischemic). Using multivariable Cox models, adjusted for age-, sex-, sib-ship and baseline stroke risk factors, we observed that parental stroke, both all-stroke generally, and ischemic stroke specifically, was associated with an increased risk of incident stroke of the same type in the offspring (HR 2.79, 95% CI: 1.68–4.66; p<0.001 for all stroke, and HR 3.15, 95% CI: 1.69–5.88; p<0.001 for ischemic stroke). This was true for both maternal and paternal stroke.
Documented parental stroke by age 65 years was associated with a three-fold increase in risk of offspring stroke. This increased risk persisted after adjustment for conventional stroke risk factors. Thus, verified parental stroke may serve as a clinically useful risk marker of an individual’s propensity to stroke.
stroke; ischemic stroke; heredity; familial aggregation
Leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is relatively short in individuals who have evidence of cardiovascular disease.
To examine the link between LTL and the predisposition to atherosclerosis, as determined by carotid artery intimal medial thickness (IMT) in participants of the Framingham Offspring Study.
LTL was assayed by the mean length of the terminal restriction fragments and carotid artery IMT by B-mode ultrasonography in 1062 individuals (496 men, 566 women) aged 33–86 years,
In the whole sample, there was a significant association of age-and sex-adjusted LTL with internal carotid artery IMT (ICA-IMT)(r= −0.07, p= 0.02). In sex-stratified analysis, this association remained significant for men (r= −0.11, p= 0.02) but not for women (r= −0.04, p= 0.36). After further adjustment for cigarette smoking and BMI, a borderline significant association persisted in men (p= 0.06). In secondary analysis, the age-adjusted LTL was significantly (and negatively) associated with ICA-IMT (r= −0.28, p 0.0006) in obese (BMI > 30kg/m2) men but not in non-obese (BMI ≤ 30 kg/m2) men. In addition, age-adjusted LTL was significantly shorter in men (6.89 ± 0.02 kb) than women (7.02 ± 0.02 kb) (p< 0.0001) and in current cigarette smokers (6.87±0.05 kb) than never smokers (6.99±0.03 kb) (p = 0.02). Although there was no significant association of LTL with common carotid artery-IMT or with carotid artery stenosis, there was a significant inverse association of LTL with common carotid artery IMT in obese men.
In obese men, shortened LTL is a powerful marker of increased carotid IMT. Given the public health impact of atherosclerosis and in particular the current epidemic of obesity, the associations noted in obese men warrant further confirmation.
Telomeres; atherosclerosis; leukocytes; obesity; sex; smoking
This article provides an introduction to the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) and the genetic research related to cardiovascular diseases conducted in this unique population1. It briefly describes the origins of the study, the risk factors that contribute to heart disease and the approaches taken to discover the genetic basis of some of these risk factors. The genetic architecture of several biological risk factors has been explained using family studies, segregation analysis, heritability, phenotypic and genetic correlations. Many quantitative trait loci underlying cardiovascular diseases have been discovered using different molecular markers. Additionally, results from genome-wide association studies using 100,000 markers, and the prospects of using 550,000 markers for association studies are presented. Finally, the use of this unique sample in genotype and environment interaction is described.
The adipokine leptin facilitates long-term potentiation and synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus, promotes β-amyloid clearance and improves memory function in animal models of aging and Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
To relate baseline circulating leptin concentrations in a dementia-free community-based sample prospectively to 1) incident dementia and AD during follow-up and 2) to MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) measures of brain aging in survivors.
Design, Setting and Participants
Plasma leptin concentrations were measured in 785 dementia-free persons (mean age 79 [SD, 5 yrs], 62% women) from the Framingham Original cohort at the 22nd examination cycle (1990–1994). A sub-sample of 198 dementia-free survivors underwent volumetric brain MRI between 1999 and 2005, approximately 7.7 years after leptin was assayed. Two measures of brain aging, the total cerebral brain volume (TCBV) and temporal horn volume (THV; inversely related to hippocampal volume) were assessed.
Main outcome measure
Incidence of dementia and AD during follow-up till December 31st, 2007.
During a median follow-up of 8.3 (range 0 to 15.5) years, 111 participants developed incident dementia, 89 had AD. Higher leptin levels were associated with a lower risk of incident dementia and AD in multivariable models (hazard ratios [HR] per one-SD increment in log-leptin were 0.68 [0.54–0.87] for all-cause dementia and 0.60 [0.46–0.79] for AD). This corresponds to an absolute AD risk over a 12 year follow-up of 25% for persons in the lowest quartile (Q1) versus 6% for persons in Q4 of sex-specific leptin levels. In addition, a one SD elevation in plasma leptin was associated with higher TCBV and lower THV, although the association of leptin with THV did not reach statistical significance.
Circulating leptin is directly related to indices of brain health in asymptomatic adults and inversely related to risk of incident dementia and AD. Our findings require confirmation in independent samples.
leptin; adipokines; dementia; Alzheimer’s disease