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1.  Spectrum of cognition short of dementia 
Neurology  2015;85(19):1712-1721.
To understand the neuropsychological basis of dementia risk among persons in the spectrum including cognitive normality and mild cognitive impairment.
We quantitated risk of progression to dementia in elderly persons without dementia from 2 population-based studies, the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) and Mayo Clinic Study of Aging (MCSA), aged 70 to 89 years at enrollment. Baseline cognitive status was defined by performance in 4 domains derived from batteries of neuropsychological tests (that were similar but not identical for FHS and MCSA) at cut scores corresponding to SDs of ≤−0.5, −1, −1.5, and −2 from normative means. Participants were characterized as having no cognitive impairment (reference group), or single or multiple amnestic or nonamnestic profiles at each cut score. Incident dementia over the following 6 years was determined by consensus committee at each study separately.
The pattern of hazard ratios for incident dementia, rates of incident dementia and positive predictive values across cognitive test cut scores, and number of affected domains was similar although not identical across the FHS and MCSA. Dementia risks were higher for amnestic profiles than for nonamnestic profiles, and for multidomain compared with single-domain profiles.
Cognitive domain subtypes, defined by neuropsychologically derived cut scores and number of low-performing domains, differ substantially in prognosis in a conceptually logical manner that was consistent between FHS and MCSA. Neuropsychological characterization of elderly persons without dementia provides valuable information about prognosis. The heterogeneity of risk of dementia cannot be captured concisely with one test or a single definition or cutpoint.
PMCID: PMC4653114  PMID: 26453643
2.  Neuropsychological Criteria for Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia Risk in the Framingham Heart Study 
To refine mild cognitive impairment (MCI) diagnostic criteria, we examined progression to dementia using two approaches to identifying MCI.
A total of 1203 Framingham Heart Study participants were classified at baseline as cognitively normal or MCI (overall and four MCI subtypes) via conventional Petersen/Winblad criteria (single cognitive test impaired per domain, >1.5 SD below expectations) or Jak/Bondi criteria (two tests impaired per domain, >1 SD below norms). Cox proportional hazards models were constructed to examine the association between each MCI definition and incident dementia.
The Petersen/Winblad criteria classified 34% of participants as having MCI while the Jak/Bondi criteria classified 24% as MCI. Over a mean follow-up of 9.7 years, 58 participants (5%) developed incident dementia. Both MCI criteria were associated with incident dementia [Petersen/Winblad: hazards ratio (HR) = 2.64; p-value = .0002; Jak/Bondi: HR = 3.30; p-value <.0001]. When both MCI definitions were included in the same model, only the Jak/Bondi definition remained statistically significantly associated with incident dementia (HR = 2.47; p-value = .008). Multi-domain amnestic and single domain non-amnestic MCI subtypes were significantly associated with incident dementia for both diagnostic approaches (all p-values <.01).
The Jak/Bondi MCI criteria had a similar association with dementia as the conventional Petersen/Winblad MCI criteria, despite classifying ~30% fewer participants as having MCI. Further exploration of alternative methods to conventional MCI diagnostic criteria is warranted.
PMCID: PMC5045758  PMID: 27029348
Mild cognitive impairment; Diagnosis; Subtype; Cognition; Dementia; Longitudinal
3.  Population normative data for the CERAD Word List and Victoria Stroop Test in younger- and middle-aged adults: Cross-sectional analyses from the Framingham Heart Study 
Experimental aging research  2016;42(4):315-328.
To provide baseline normative data on tests of verbal memory and executive function for non-demented young to middle age adults.
The Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer’s Disease Word List task (CERAD-WL) and Victoria Stroop Test (VST) were administered to 3362 Framingham Heart Study (FHS) volunteer participants aged 24-78 years. Analyses of the effects of age, sex and education were conducted. Normative data on traditional measures and error responses are reported for each test.
Traditional measures were significantly associated with both age and education in this younger-aged cohort. Error responses also evidenced significant age and education effects.
These data provide a normative comparison for assessment of verbal memory and executive functioning capabilities in young adults and may be utilized as a tool for preclinical studies of disease in younger aged adults.
PMCID: PMC4946576  PMID: 27410241
aging; cognition; mild cognitive impairment; dementia; executive functioning; memory
4.  Fifty-Year Trends in Atrial Fibrillation Prevalence, Incidence, Risk Factors, and Mortality in the Community 
Lancet (London, England)  2015;386(9989):154-162.
Comprehensive long-term data on atrial fibrillation trends in men and women are scant.
We investigated trends in atrial fibrillation incidence, prevalence, and risk factors, and in stroke and mortality following its onset in Framingham Heart Study participants (n=9511) from 1958 to 2007. To accommodate sex differences in atrial fibrillation risk factors and disease manifestations, sex-stratified analyses were performed.
During 50 years of observation (202,417 person-years), there were 1,544 new-onset atrial fibrillation cases (46.8% women). We observed about a fourfold increase in the age-adjusted prevalence and more than a tripling in age-adjusted incidence of atrial fibrillation (prevalence 20.4 versus 96.2 per 1000 person-years in men; 13.7 versus 49.4 in women; incidence rates in first versus last decade 3.7 versus 13.4 per 1000 person-years in men; 2.5 versus 8.6 in women, ptrend<0.0001).
For atrial fibrillation diagnosed by ECG during routine Framingham examinations, age-adjusted prevalence increased (12.6versus 25.7 per 1000 person-years in men; 8.1 versus 11.8 in women, ptrend<0.0001). The age-adjusted incidence increased, but did not achieve statistical significance. Although the prevalence of most risk factors changed over time, their associated hazards for atrial fibrillation changed little. Multivariable-adjusted proportional hazards models revealed a 73.5% decline in stroke and a 25.4% decline in mortality following atrial fibrillation onset (ptrend=0.0001, ptrend=0.003, respectively).
Our data suggest that observed trends of increased incidence of atrial fibrillation in the community were partially due to enhanced surveillance. Stroke occurrence and mortality following atrial fibrillation onset declined over the decades, and prevalence increased approximately fourfold. The hazards for atrial fibrillation risk factors remained fairly constant. Our data indicate a need for measures to enhance early detection of atrial fibrillation through increased awareness coupled with targeted screening programs, and risk factor-specific prevention.
PMCID: PMC4553037  PMID: 25960110
atrial fibrillation; secular trends; mortality
5.  Glucose indices are associated with cognitive and structural brain measures in young adults 
Neurology  2015;84(23):2329-2337.
To evaluate the possible early consequences of impaired glucose metabolism on the brain by assessing the relationship of diabetes, fasting blood glucose (FBG) levels, and insulin resistance with cognitive performance and brain integrity in healthy young and middle-aged adults.
The sample included dementia-free participants (mean age 40 ± 9 years; 53% women) of the Framingham Heart Study third-generation cohort with cognitive testing of memory, abstract reasoning, visual perception, attention, and executive function (n = 2,126). In addition, brain MRI examination (n = 1,597) was used to determine white matter, gray matter, and white matter hyperintensity (WMH) volumes and fractional anisotropy measures. We used linear regression models to assess relationships between diabetes, FBG, and insulin resistance with cognition, lobar gray matter, and WMH volumes as well as voxel-based microstructural white matter integrity and gray matter density, adjusting for potential confounders. Mediating effect of brain lesions on the association of diabetes with cognitive performance was also tested.
Diabetes was associated with worse memory, visual perception, and attention performance; increased WMH; and decreased total cerebral brain and occipital lobar gray matter volumes. The link of diabetes with attention and memory was mediated through occipital and frontal atrophy, and the latter also through hippocampal atrophy. Both diabetes and increased FBG were associated with large areas of reductions in gray matter density and fractional anisotropy on voxel-based analyses.
We found that hyperglycemia is associated with subtle brain injury and impaired attention and memory even in young adults, indicating that brain injury is an early manifestation of impaired glucose metabolism.
PMCID: PMC4464744  PMID: 25948725
6.  Long-term exposure to fine particulate matter, residential proximity to major roads and measures of brain structure 
Background and Purpose
Long-term exposure to ambient air pollution is associated with cerebrovascular disease and cognitive impairment, but whether it is related to structural changes in the brain is not clear. We examined the associations between residential long-term exposure to ambient air pollution and markers of brain aging using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Framingham Offspring Study participants who attended the seventh examination, were at least 60 years old and free of dementia and stroke were included. We evaluated associations between exposures (fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and residential proximity to major roadways) and measures of total cerebral brain volume, hippocampal volume, white matter hyperintensity volume (log-transformed and extensive white matter hyperintensity volume for age) and covert brain infarcts. Models were adjusted for age, clinical covariates, indicators of socioeconomic position, and temporal trends.
A 2 μg/m3 increase in PM2.5 was associated with -0.32% (95%CI: -0.59, -0.05) smaller total cerebral brain volume and 1.46 (95%CI: 1.10, 1.94) higher odds of covert brain infarcts. Living further away from a major roadway was associated with 0.10 (95%CI: 0.01, 0.19) greater log-transformed white matter hyperintensity volume for an interquartile range difference in distance, but no clear pattern of association was observed for extensive white matter.
Exposure to elevated levels of PM2.5 was associated with smaller total cerebral brain volume, a marker of age-associated brain atrophy, and with higher odds of covert brain infarcts. These findings suggest that air pollution is associated with insidious effects on structural brain aging even in dementia-and stroke-free persons.
PMCID: PMC4414870  PMID: 25908455
air pollution; white matter disease; brain imaging
7.  Genome-wide Studies of Verbal Declarative Memory in Nondemented Older People: The Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology Consortium 
Debette, Stéphanie | Ibrahim Verbaas, Carla A. | Bressler, Jan | Schuur, Maaike | Smith, Albert | Bis, Joshua C. | Davies, Gail | Wolf, Christiane | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Chibnik, Lori B. | Yang, Qiong | deStefano, Anita L. | de Quervain, Dominique J.F. | Srikanth, Velandai | Lahti, Jari | Grabe, Hans J. | Smith, Jennifer A. | Priebe, Lutz | Yu, Lei | Karbalai, Nazanin | Hayward, Caroline | Wilson, James F. | Campbell, Harry | Petrovic, Katja | Fornage, Myriam | Chauhan, Ganesh | Yeo, Robin | Boxall, Ruth | Becker, James | Stegle, Oliver | Mather, Karen A. | Chouraki, Vincent | Sun, Qi | Rose, Lynda M. | Resnick, Susan | Oldmeadow, Christopher | Kirin, Mirna | Wright, Alan F. | Jonsdottir, Maria K. | Au, Rhoda | Becker, Albert | Amin, Najaf | Nalls, Mike A. | Turner, Stephen T. | Kardia, Sharon L.R. | Oostra, Ben | Windham, Gwen | Coker, Laura H. | Zhao, Wei | Knopman, David S. | Heiss, Gerardo | Griswold, Michael E. | Gottesman, Rebecca F. | Vitart, Veronique | Hastie, Nicholas D. | Zgaga, Lina | Rudan, Igor | Polasek, Ozren | Holliday, Elizabeth G. | Schofield, Peter | Choi, Seung Hoan | Tanaka, Toshiko | An, Yang | Perry, Rodney T. | Kennedy, Richard E. | Sale, Michèle M. | Wang, Jing | Wadley, Virginia G. | Liewald, David C. | Ridker, Paul M. | Gow, Alan J. | Pattie, Alison | Starr, John M. | Porteous, David | Liu, Xuan | Thomson, Russell | Armstrong, Nicola J. | Eiriksdottir, Gudny | Assareh, Arezoo A. | Kochan, Nicole A. | Widen, Elisabeth | Palotie, Aarno | Hsieh, Yi-Chen | Eriksson, Johan G. | Vogler, Christian | van Swieten, John C. | Shulman, Joshua M. | Beiser, Alexa | Rotter, Jerome | Schmidt, Carsten O. | Hoffmann, Wolfgang | Nöthen, Markus M. | Ferrucci, Luigi | Attia, John | Uitterlinden, Andre G. | Amouyel, Philippe | Dartigues, Jean-François | Amieva, Hélène | Räikkönen, Katri | Garcia, Melissa | Wolf, Philip A. | Hofman, Albert | Longstreth, W.T. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Boerwinkle, Eric | DeJager, Philip L. | Sachdev, Perminder S. | Schmidt, Reinhold | Breteler, Monique M.B. | Teumer, Alexander | Lopez, Oscar L. | Cichon, Sven | Chasman, Daniel I. | Grodstein, Francine | Müller-Myhsok, Bertram | Tzourio, Christophe | Papassotiropoulos, Andreas | Bennett, David A. | Ikram, Arfan M. | Deary, Ian J. | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Launer, Lenore | Fitzpatrick, Annette L. | Seshadri, Sudha | Mosley, Thomas H.
Biological psychiatry  2014;77(8):749-763.
Memory performance in older persons can reflect genetic influences on cognitive function and dementing processes. We aimed to identify genetic contributions to verbal declarative memory in a community setting.
We conducted genome-wide association studies for paragraph or word list delayed recall in 19 cohorts from the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology consortium, comprising 29,076 dementia-and stroke-free individuals of European descent, aged ≥45 years. Replication of suggestive associations (p < 5 × 10−6) was sought in 10,617 participants of European descent, 3811 African-Americans, and 1561 young adults.
rs4420638, near APOE, was associated with poorer delayed recall performance in discovery (p = 5.57 × 10−10) and replication cohorts (p = 5.65 × 10−8). This association was stronger for paragraph than word list delayed recall and in the oldest persons. Two associations with specific tests, in subsets of the total sample, reached genome-wide significance in combined analyses of discovery and replication (rs11074779 [HS3ST4], p = 3.11 × 10−8, and rs6813517 [SPOCK3], p = 2.58 × 10−8) near genes involved in immune response. A genetic score combining 58 independent suggestive memory risk variants was associated with increasing Alzheimer disease pathology in 725 autopsy samples. Association of memory risk loci with gene expression in 138 human hippocampus samples showed cis-associations with WDR48 and CLDN5, both related to ubiquitin metabolism.
This largest study to date exploring the genetics of memory function in ~ 40,000 older individuals revealed genome-wide associations and suggested an involvement of immune and ubiquitin pathways.
PMCID: PMC4513651  PMID: 25648963
Alzheimer disease; Dementia; Epidemiology; Genetics; Population-based; Verbal declarative memory
8.  Low Cardiac Index is Associated with Incident Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease: The Framingham Heart Study 
Circulation  2015;131(15):1333-1339.
Cross-sectional epidemiological and clinical research suggest lower cardiac index is associated with abnormal brain aging, including smaller brain volumes, increased white matter hyperintensities, and worse cognitive performances. Lower systemic blood flow may have implications for dementia among older adults.
Methods & Results
1039 Framingham Offspring Cohort participants free from clinical stroke, transient ischemic attack, or dementia formed our sample (69±6 years; 53% women). Multivariable-adjusted proportional hazard models adjusting for Framingham Stroke Risk Profile score (age, sex, systolic blood pressure, anti-hypertensive medication, diabetes, cigarette smoking, cardiovascular disease [CVD] history, atrial fibrillation), education, and apolipoprotein E4 status related cardiac MRI-assessed cardiac index (cardiac output/body surface area) to incident all-cause dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Over the median 7.7 year follow-up period, 32 participants developed dementia, including 26 cases of AD. Each one standard deviation unit decrease in cardiac index increased the relative risk of both dementia (HR=1.66; 95% confidence intervals [CI], 1.11–2.47; p=0.013) and AD (HR=1.65; 95% CI, 1.07–2.54; p=0.022). Compared to normal cardiac index, individuals with clinically low cardiac index had a higher relative risk of dementia (HR=2.07; 95% CI, 1.02–4.19; p=0.044). If participants with clinically prevalent CVD and atrial fibrillation were excluded (n=184), individuals with clinically low cardiac index had a higher relative risk of both dementia (HR=2.92; 95% CI, 1.34–6.36; p=0.007) and AD (HR=2.87; 95% CI, 1.21–6.80; p=0.016) compared to individuals with normal cardiac index.
Lower cardiac index is associated with an increased risk for the development of dementia and AD.
PMCID: PMC4398627  PMID: 25700178
blood circulation; brain; cardiac output; hemodynamics; dementia; Alzheimer disease
9.  Lifelong Reading Disorder and Mild Cognitive Impairment: Implications for Diagnosis 
Although neuropsychological tests are commonly used in the evaluation of possible mild cognitive impairment (MCI), poor test scores may be indicative of factors other than neurological compromise. The current study assessed the role of lifelong reading disorder on MCI classification. Community dwelling older adults with a suspected developmental reading disorder were identified by inference based on reading test performance. Individuals with a suspected reading disorder were significantly more likely to perform at a level consistent with MCI on several commonly used neuropsychological tests. The findings suggest a relationship between a history of reading disorder and MCI classification.
PMCID: PMC4827707  PMID: 26639959
Alzheimer’s disease; cognition; dyslexia; learning disorders; memory disorders; mild cognitive impairment; neuropsychological tests
10.  Midlife Hypertension Risk and Cognition in the Non-Demented Oldest Old: Framingham Heart Study 
Midlife cardiovascular risk, hypertension (HTN) in particular, has been related cross-sectionally to poorer neuropsychological (NP) performance in middle age and older adults. This study investigated whether a similar relationship persists between midlife HTN or systolic blood pressure (SBP) and NP performance approximately 30 years later. 378 Framingham stroke and dementia-free Original cohort participants, with HTN and SBP ascertained between 50–60 years of age (mean age 55 ± 1, 65% women), were administered a NP assessment at age ≥80 years. Tests included Logical Memory, Visual Reproduction, Paired Associate, Hooper Visual Organization Test, Trail Making A & B, Digit Span Forward and Backward, Controlled Word Association Test (COWAT), and Similarities. Multivariable linear regression, adjusted for age, time interval between risk factor and NP testing, gender, and premorbid intelligence, assessed association between midlife HTN/SBP and NP outcomes. Midlife HTN was not significantly associated with NP outcome measures. Midlife SBP was associated with poorer Digit Span Forward and COWAT performance (p < 0.05). No significant interaction of age on HTN/SBP to NP associations was found. There was a significant interaction between ApoE4 status and SBP in their effects on COWAT (pinteraction = 0.074); SBP was negatively associated with COWAT only in those with the ApoE4 allele (p = 0.025). While midlife HTN is not associated with late life cognitive impairment, midlife SBP is related to late life attention and verbal fluency impairments, particularly among ApoE4+ individuals. These results offer insight into processes that are operative in the absence of overt cognitive impairment and dementia.
PMCID: PMC4827717  PMID: 26402768
Apolipoprotein E4; blood pressure; cognition; executive function; hypertension; memory; neuropsychological assessment
11.  Midlife Cardiovascular Risk Impacts Memory Function: The Framingham Offspring Study 
This study incorporates unique error response analyses with traditional measures of memory to examine the association between mid-life cardiovascular risk factors (CVRF) and later-life memory function.
The Framingham Stroke Risk Profile (FSRP), a composite score of cardiovascular risk, was assessed in 1755 Framingham Offspring participants (54% women, mean age=54±9 years) from 1991-1995. Memory tests including Logical Memory (LM) and Visual Reproductions (VR) were administered from 2005-2008. Linear and logistic regression examined the association between FSRP and memory measures. Interaction between presence of the ApoE4 allele and each FSRP component on the memory measures was also assessed.
FSRP and the individual components of age, sex, and smoking were related to lower standard scores of memory. The new error response analyses reinforced the standard analyses and also identified new relationships. Participants with diabetes were found to make more errors on LM, and those with a history of smoking were found to make more errors on VR. Lastly, ApoE4+ smokers experienced significant verbal memory loss whereas ApoE4- smokers did not.
Middle-aged healthy adults with CVRF including diabetes, history of smoking, and ApoE4 positivity were found to have greater later-life memory impairments.
PMCID: PMC4345145  PMID: 25187219
Neuropsychological assessment; Memory; Mild cognitive impairment; ApolipoproteinE allele 4
12.  Gender and incidence of dementia in the Framingham Heart Study from mid-adult life 
Gender-specific risks for dementia and Alzheimer's Disease (AD) starting in midlife remain largely unknown.
Prospectively ascertained dementia/AD and cause-specific mortality in Framingham Heart Study (FHS) participants was used to generate 10- to 50-year risk estimates of dementia/AD, based on the Kaplan-Meier method (Cumulative Incidence) or accounting for competing risk of death (lifetime risk, LTR).
Overall, 777 incident dementia (601 AD) occurred in 7,901 participants (4,333 women) over 136,266 person-years. Whereas cumulative incidences were similar in women and men, LTRs were higher in women >85. LTR of dementia/AD at age 45 was 1 in 5 in women, 1 in 10 in men. Cardiovascular mortality was higher in men with rate ratios decreasing from ~6 at 45-54 to <2 after age 65.
Selective survival of men with a healthier cardiovascular risk profile and hence lower propensity to dementia might partly explain the higher LTR of dementia/AD in women.
PMCID: PMC4092061  PMID: 24418058
incidence of dementia; Alzheimer's disease; gender; mortality; cardiovascular risk profile; selective survival; cohort/population-based cohort; prevention
13.  Plasma amyloid β and risk of Alzheimer’s disease in the Framingham Heart Study 
Plasma amyloid β (Aβ) peptides levels have been examined as a low-cost, accessible marker for risk of incident Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia, but results have varied between studies. We reassessed these associations in one of the largest, prospective, community-based studies to date.
A total of 2189 dementia-free, Framingham Study participants over age 60 years (mean age 72±8; 56% women) had plasma Aβ1-42 and Aβ1-40 measured and were followed prospectively (mean 7.6±3.0 years) for dementia/AD.
Increased plasma Aβ1-42 levels were associated with lower risk of dementia (Hazard ratios: Aβ1-42 HR=0.80 [0.71–0.90], p<0.001; Aβ1-42/Aβ1-40 ratio HR=0.86 [0.76–0.98], p=0.027) and AD (Aβ1-42 HR=0.79 [0.69–0.90], p<0.001; Aβ1-42/Aβ1-40 ratio HR=0.83 [0.72–0.96], p=0.012).
Our results suggest that lower plasma Aβ levels are associated with risk of incident AD and dementia. They encourage further evaluation of plasma Aβ levels as a biomarker for risk of developing clinical AD and dementia.
PMCID: PMC4362883  PMID: 25217292
Aβ peptides; plasma biomarker; incident Alzheimer’s disease; incident dementia; Framingham heart study; epidemiology; meta-analysis
14.  APOE and mild cognitive impairment: the Framingham Heart Study 
Age and Ageing  2014;44(2):307-311.
Background: the risk apolipoprotein E-4 (APOE4) poses for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) may vary based on the neuropsychological definition of MCI.
Setting: a community-based cohort study.
Methods: using two psychometric neuropsychological impairment definitions, we examined APOE4 and prevalent MCI among older adults or pre-MCI among middle-aged adults. Neuropsychological, clinical and genetic data were collected on 2,239 Framingham Offspring Cohort participants free from clinical stroke or dementia (62 ± 9 years; 54% women). Prevalent amnestic MCI was defined from neuropsychological performances ≥1.5 SD below the mean based on (i) age and education or (ii) age and Wide Range Achievement Test-3 Reading (WRAT-3 Reading) performance adjustment.
Results: in the entire sample, multivariable-adjusted logistic regressions found that APOE4 was associated with amnestic MCI when using the age and WRAT Reading definition (odds ratio [OR] = 1.7, P = 0.002) but not the age and education definition (OR = 1.0, P = 0.90). Results were modified by age, such that APOE4 was associated with amnestic MCI in participants ≥65 years using both the age and WRAT Reading definition (OR = 2.4, P < 0.001) and the age and education definition (OR = 1.7, P = 0.04).
Conclusion: APOE4 risk for prevalent amnestic MCI varies depending on the definition of objective neuropsychological impairment for MCI. Our findings support existing literature emphasising the need to refine MCI neuropsychological profiling methods.
PMCID: PMC4400527  PMID: 25497326
Alzheimer's disease; APOE; genetic risk; mild cognitive impairment; older people; risk factors
15.  Carotid Atherosclerosis and Cerebral Microbleeds: The Framingham Heart Study 
Carotid atherosclerosis is associated with subclinical ischemic cerebrovascular disease, but its role in hemorrhage‐prone small vessel disease—represented by cerebral microbleed (CMB)—is unclear, although vascular risk factors underlie both conditions. We hypothesized that persons with carotid atherosclerosis would have higher risk of CMB, particularly in deep regions.
Methods and Results
We studied 1243 participants in the Framingham Offspring Study (aged 56.9±8.8 years; 53% women) with carotid ultrasound available on 2 occasions (1995–1998 and 2005–2008) prior to brain magnetic resonance imaging. Using multivariable logistic regression, we related baseline carotid stenosis, baseline intima–media thickness, and site‐specific carotid intima–media thickness progression (at internal and common carotid locations) to the prevalence and location (lobar or deep plus mixed) of CMB. In addition, we assessed effect modification by lipid levels and use of statin and antithrombotic medications. Carotid stenosis ≥25% (a marker of cerebrovascular atherosclerosis) was associated with presence of CMB overall (Odds Ratio 2.20, 95% CI 1.10–4.40) and at deep and mixed locations (odds ratio 3.60, 95% CI 1.23–10.5). Baseline carotid intima–media thickness was not associated with CMB. Progression of common carotid artery intima–media thickness among persons on hypertension treatment was associated with lower risk of deep and mixed CMB (odds ratio per SD 0.41, 95% CI 0.18–0.96).
Cumulative vascular risk factor exposure may increase the risk of CMB, especially in deep regions. The apparent paradoxical association of carotid intima–media thickness progression with lower risk of CMB may reflect benefits of intensive vascular risk factor treatment among persons with higher cardiovascular risk and deserves further investigation. If replicated, the results may have potential implications for assessment of preventive and therapeutic interventions for subclinical cerebral hemorrhage.
PMCID: PMC4943235  PMID: 26994127
brain magnetic resonance imaging; carotid atherosclerosis; carotid intima–media thickness; cerebral microbleeds; Epidemiology; Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI); Ultrasound; Cerebrovascular Disease/Stroke; Atherosclerosis
16.  Inflammatory biomarkers, cerebral microbleeds, and small vessel disease 
Neurology  2015;84(8):825-832.
We investigated the association between circulating biomarkers of inflammation and MRI markers of small vessel disease.
We performed a cross-sectional study relating a panel of 15 biomarkers, representing systemic inflammation (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, monocyte chemotactic protein-1, tumor necrosis factor α, tumor necrosis factor receptor 2, osteoprotegerin, and fibrinogen), vascular inflammation (intercellular adhesion molecule 1, CD40 ligand, P-selectin, lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 mass and activity, total homocysteine, and vascular endothelial growth factor), and oxidative stress (myeloperoxidase) to ischemic (white matter hyperintensities/silent cerebral infarcts) and hemorrhagic (cerebral microbleeds) markers of cerebral small vessel disease (CSVD) on MRI in 1,763 stroke-free Framingham offspring (mean age 60.2 ± 9.1 years, 53.7% women).
We observed higher levels of circulating tumor necrosis factor receptor 2 and myeloperoxidase in the presence of cerebral microbleed (odds ratio [OR] 2.2, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.1–4.1 and OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1–2.0, respectively), higher levels of osteoprotegerin (OR 1.1, 95% CI 1.0–1.2), intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.1–2.5), and lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 mass (OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1–2.1), and lower myeloperoxidase (OR 0.8, 95% CI 0.7–1.0) in participants with greater white matter hyperintensity volumes and silent cerebral infarcts.
Our study supports a possible role for inflammation in the pathogenesis of CSVD, but suggests that differing inflammatory pathways may underlie ischemic and hemorrhagic subtypes. If validated in other samples, these biomarkers may improve stroke risk prognostication and point to novel therapeutic targets to combat CSVD.
PMCID: PMC4345647  PMID: 25632086
17.  Lipid and lipoprotein measurements and the risk of ischemic vascular events 
Neurology  2015;84(5):472-479.
To examine the relationship between plasma lipid measurements and incident ischemic vascular events (ischemic stroke [IS], and as a positive control, myocardial infarction [MI]) in a community cohort.
In 6,276 stroke-free Framingham participants (aged 64 ± 10 years, 56% female), we related plasma lipid levels (total cholesterol [TC], high-density lipoprotein cholesterol [HDL-C], and TC/HDL-C ratio) measured at the original cohort 15th (1977–1979) and 20th examination cycles (1986–1990) and (TC, HDL-C, TC/HDL-C ratio, triglycerides [TG], and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol [LDL-C]) measured at the offspring fourth examination (1995–1998), to 10-year risk of incident IS and MI. Utilizing genome-wide genotyping in the same subjects, we used mendelian randomization methods to assess whether observed associations were incidental or causal.
During a mean follow-up of 9 years, 301 participants experienced incident IS. In multivariable-adjusted analyses, HDL-C ≤40 mg/dL and TC/HDL ratio ≥5 were associated with increased risk of IS (hazard ratio [95% confidence interval]: 1.59 [1.23–2.05], p < 0.001 and 1.47 [1.15–1.87], p < 0.001), but not TC or LDL-C. In adjusted analysis, a strong association between TG and IS was diminished. In the MI-free sample (n = 5,875, aged 64 ± 10 years, 58% female; 403 MI events), all lipid markers were associated with MI risk. A genetic risk score comprising 47 known determinants of circulating HDL-C was not associated with IS.
In a middle-aged to elderly community sample, we observed that low HDL-C and high TC/HDL-C ratio, but not LDL-C or TG were associated with risk of incident IS. We observed the usual associations between lipids and risk of MI. Our findings suggest an important, but less likely causal, role of HDL-C over other lipid biomarkers for optimal stroke risk stratification.
PMCID: PMC4336066  PMID: 25568296
18.  Association of exhaled carbon monoxide with subclinical cardiovascular disease and their conjoint impact on the incidence of cardiovascular outcomes 
European Heart Journal  2014;35(42):2980-2987.
Whereas endogenous carbon monoxide (CO) is cytoprotective at physiologic levels, excess CO concentrations are associated with cardiometabolic risk and may represent an important marker of progression from subclinical to clinical cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Methods and results
In 1926 participants of the Framingham Offspring Study (aged 57 ± 10 years, 46% women), we investigated the relationship of exhaled CO, a surrogate of blood CO concentration, with both prevalent subclinical CVD and incident clinical CVD events. Presence of subclinical CVD was determined using a comprehensive panel of diagnostic tests used to assess cardiac and vascular structure and function. Individuals with the highest (>5 p.p.m.) compared with lowest (≤4 p.p.m.) CO exposure were more likely to have subclinical CVD [odds ratios (OR): 1.67, 95% CI: 1.32–2.12; P < 0.001]. During the follow-up period (mean 5 ± 3 years), 193 individuals developed overt CVD. Individuals with both high CO levels and any baseline subclinical CVD developed overt CVD at an almost four-fold higher rate compared with those with low CO levels and no subclinical disease (22.1 vs. 6.3%). Notably, elevated CO was associated with incident CVD in the presence [hazards ration (HR): 1.83, 95% CI: 1.08–3.11; P = 0.026] but not in the absence (HR: 0.80, 95% CI: 0.42–1.53; P = 0.51) of subclinical CVD (Pinteraction = 0.019). Similarly, subclinical CVD was associated with incident CVD in the presence of high but not low CO exposure.
Our findings in a community-based sample suggest that elevated CO is a marker of greater subclinical CVD burden and, furthermore, a potential key component in the progression from subclinical to clinical CVD.
PMCID: PMC4271053  PMID: 24574370
Carbon monoxide; Subclinical vascular disease; Cardiovascular outcomes
19.  Cognitive Performance after Stroke – The Framingham Heart Study 
Individuals with a high risk of stroke are also more prone to cognitive impairment perhaps due to concomitant vascular risk factors. In addition, clinical stroke increases the risk of subsequent dementia. Nevertheless, the relationship between clinical stroke and subsequent cognitive function in initially non-demented individuals remains less clear as most prior studies examined case series without controls.
To specify among non-demented individuals the cognitive domains affected by clinical stroke, independently of vascular risk factors and pre-stroke cognition.
One hundred-thirty-two Framingham Study participants (mean age=77±9 years, 54% women) with prospectively validated initial strokes, as well as age- and sex-matched controls, underwent identical cognitive evaluations ~6 months after the stroke. Linear regression models were used to assess the differences in cognitive scores between stroke cases and controls adjusting for pre-stroke cognitive function as assessed by Mini-Mental State Examination scores, and with and without adjustment for vascular risk factors.
Adjusting for pre-stroke cognition and vascular risk factors, persons with stroke had poorer cognitive function in the domains of immediate recall of logical and visual memories (β=−1.27±0.60; P=0.035, β=−1.03±0.47; P=0.028, respectively), verbal learning (paired associate test; β=−1.31±0.57; P=0.023), language (Boston naming test; β=−0.27±0.08; P=0.002), executive function (Digit span backwards; β=−0.53±0.21; P=0.015) and visuo-spatial and motor skills (block design; β=−3.02±1.06; P=0.005).
Clinical stroke is associated with subsequent poorer performance in multiple cognitive domains. This association cannot be entirely explained by the individual’s cognitive function prior to stroke or by concomitant vascular risk factor levels.
PMCID: PMC4215163  PMID: 25352473
cerebrovascular disease; stroke related outcomes; cognitive function; vascular risk factors; neuropsychology matched cohort study
20.  Association between neuropathology and brain volume in the Framingham Heart Study 
Studies of clinical and community cohorts have shown that antemortem imaging measures of hippocampal volume have correlated with postmortem Alzheimer's pathology. Fewer studies have examined the relationship between both Alzheimer's and cerebrovascular pathology, and antemortem brain imaging. The aim of this study was to correlate antemortem brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) volumes with postmortem brain pathology (both Alzheimer-related and cerebrovascular) in a community-derived cohort from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS). Participants (n=59) from the FHS were included if they were enrolled in the brain autopsy program and underwent antemortem clinical evaluation, neuropsychological testing and brain MRI. Cortical neurofibrillary tangle pathology correlated with lower total cerebral brain (beta±SE=−0.04±0.01, p=0.004) and hippocampal volumes (beta±SE=−0.03±0.02, p=0.044) and larger temporal horns (log-transformed, beta±SE=0.05±0.01, p=0.001). Similar findings were seen between total/cortical neuritic plaques and total cerebral brain and temporal horn volume. White matter hyperintensities (also log-transformed) were best predicted by the presence of deep nuclei microinfarcts (beta±SE=0.53±0.21, p=0.016), whereas hippocampal volume was significantly decreased in the presence of hippocampal sclerosis (beta±SE =−1.23±0.30, p<0.001). This study showed that volumetric MRI measures correlated with postmortem Alzheimer-related and cerebrovascular neuropathology in this community-derived cohort, confirming that these MRI measures are important antemortem surrogates for these dementia-related pathologies.
PMCID: PMC4139422  PMID: 24614264
21.  Insulin-like growth factor-1 and risk of Alzheimer dementia and brain atrophy 
Neurology  2014;82(18):1613-1619.
To relate serum insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) to risk of Alzheimer disease (AD) dementia and to brain volumes in a dementia-free community sample spanning middle and older ages.
Dementia-free Framingham participants from generation 1 (n = 789, age 79 ± 4 years, 64% women) and generation 2 (n = 2,793, age 61 ± 9 years, 55% women; total = 3,582, age 65 ± 11 years, 57% women) had serum IGF-1 measured in 1990–1994 and 1998–2001, respectively, and were followed prospectively for incident dementia and AD dementia. Brain MRI was obtained in stroke- and dementia-free survivors of both generations 1 (n = 186) and 2 (n = 1,867) during 1999–2005. Baseline IGF-1 was related to risk of incident dementia using Cox models and to total brain and hippocampal volumes using linear regression in multivariable models adjusted for age, sex, APOE ε4, plasma homocysteine, waist-hip ratio, and physical activity.
Mean IGF-1 levels were 144 ± 60 μg/L in generation 1 and 114 ± 37 μg/L in generation 2. We observed 279 cases of incident dementia (230 AD dementia) over a mean follow-up of 7.4 ± 3.1 years. Persons with IGF-1 in the lowest quartile had a 51% greater risk of AD dementia (hazard ratio = 1.51, 95% confidence interval: 1.14–2.00; p = 0.004). Among persons without dementia, higher IGF-1 levels were associated with greater total brain volumes (β/SD increment in IGF-1 was 0.55 ± 0.24, p = 0.025; and 0.26 ± 0.06, p < 0.001, for generations 1 and 2, respectively).
Lower serum levels of IGF-1 are associated with an increased risk of developing AD dementia and higher levels with greater brain volumes even among middle-aged community-dwelling participants free of stroke and dementia. Higher levels of IGF-1 may protect against subclinical and clinical neurodegeneration.
PMCID: PMC4013812  PMID: 24706014
22.  Parental longevity is associated with cognition and brain ageing in middle-aged offspring 
Age and Ageing  2013;43(3):358-363.
Background: offspring of long-lived individuals have lower risk for dementia. We examined the relation between parental longevity and cognition and subclinical markers of brain ageing in community-dwelling adult offspring.
Methods: offspring participants with both parents in the Framingham Heart Study, aged ≥55 years and dementia-free underwent baseline and repeat neuropsychological (NP) testing and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Parental longevity was defined as having at least one parent survive to age ≥85 years. To test the association between parental longevity and measures of cognition and brain volumes, we used multivariable linear and logistic regression adjusting for age, sex, education and time to NP testing or brain MRI.
Results: of 728 offspring (mean age 66 years, 54% women), 407 (56%) had ≥1 parent achieve longevity. In cross-sectional analysis, parental longevity was associated with better scores on attention (beta 0.21 ± 0.08, P = 0.006) and a lower odds of extensive white matter hyperintensity on brain MRI (odds ratio 0.59, 95% CI: 0.38, 0.92, P = 0.019). The association with white matter hyperintensity was no longer significant in models adjusted for cardiovascular risk factors and disease. In longitudinal analysis (6.7 ± 1.7 years later), offspring with parental longevity had slower decline in attention (0.18 ± 0.08, P = 0.038), executive function (beta 0.19 ± 0.09, P = 0.031) and visual memory (beta −0.18 ± 0.08, P = 0.023), and less increase in temporal horn volume (beta −0.25 ± 0.09, P = 0.005). The associations persisted in fully adjusted models.
Conclusion: parental longevity is associated with better brain ageing in middle-aged offspring.
PMCID: PMC4001170  PMID: 24212919
brain ageing; brain imaging; cognition; longevity; neuropsychological testing; older people; parental longevity
23.  Risk Factors, Stroke Prevention Treatments, and Prevalence of Cerebral Microbleeds in the Framingham Heart Study 
Background and purpose
Cerebral microbleeds (CMBs) are associated with increased risk of stroke and poor cognition. Vascular risk factors and medications used for stroke prevention may increase the risk of CMB. We examined the prevalence of CMB and the association of these risk factors with CMB, postulating that risk factors for cerebral amyloid angiopathy would be associated with lobar CMB and markers of hypertensive vasculopathy with deep CMB.
We include 1,965 Framingham Original and Offspring participants (age 66.5±11.0years; 54%women) and evaluated the age- and sex-specific prevalence of CMB. We related various vascular and genetic (APOE) risk factors and medication use to presence of CMB overall and stratified by brain location (deep, lobar or mixed).
CMBs were observed in 8.8% of participants, being mostly lobar (63%). CMB prevalence increased with age (p<0.0001) and was higher in men (p<0.001). Hypertension increased risk of any CMB, and in deep and mixed locations (p<0.05), and low total cholesterol and APOE ε4 increased risk of lobar CMB (p<0.05). Statin use increased risk of lobar and mixed location CMB (p<0.05). The latter association was not affected by adjustment for cholesterol levels, or concomitant medication use.
We observed the expected association of hypertension with deep CMB and low cholesterol and APOEε4 with lobar CMB. Additionally, statin use was independently associated with CMB risk. This potential adverse effect of statin use needs to be examined in other cohorts.
PMCID: PMC4048617  PMID: 24713533
24.  Midlife Cardiovascular Risk Impacts Executive Function: Framingham Offspring Study 
Novel error scores and traditional indices of executive function (EF) were related to cardiovascular risk factors (CVRF) measured 10–15 years earlier.
From 1991–1995, the Framingham Stroke Risk Profile (FSRP), a composite score of cardiovascular risk, was ascertained in 1755 Framingham Offspring participants (54% women, mean age= 54 ± 9 years). Participants were administered EF tests: FAS and Animals Fluency tests, Trail Making Test B (TrB), and Digit Span-Backwards (DS-B) in 2005–2009. Linear and logistic regression were used to relate the FSRP and its components to both error responses and traditional scores.
Consistent with previous findings, the FSRP and the individual components diabetes and sex were associated with several traditional measures of EF. Of interest were relationships between the FSRP score and TrB Total Errors (p=0.04), DS-B % Total Errors (p=0.02) and DS-B Capacity Score (p=0.03), and prevalent CVD related to making FAS Perseverations in the 75th percentile (p=0.03). By comparison, FSRP and CVD were not related to the traditional DS-B or FAS scores. Additionally, age was associated with higher Animals % Total Errors and % Perseverations among ApoE4+ individuals and with higher TrB Total Errors among ApoE4− individuals.
For those middle-aged and healthy, including those ApoE4+, CVRF are related to impairments in EF as ascertained by novel errors as well as traditional measures.
PMCID: PMC3945114  PMID: 23995818
Neuropsychological assessment; Executive function; Mild cognitive impairment; ApolipoproteinE allele 4
25.  APOE genotype modifies the relationship between midlife vascular risk factors and later cognitive decline 
Vascular risk factors have been associated with cognitive decline, however, it remains unclear whether apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype modifies this relationship. We aimed to further elucidate these relationships and extend previous findings by examining data from a more comprehensive cognitive assessment than used in prior studies. 1,436 participants from the prospective Framingham Offspring Cohort Study underwent health examination from 1991-1995, followed by a baseline neuropsychological assessment (1999-2003) and a repeat neuropsychological assessment approximately eight years later (2004-2009). Multivariate linear regression analyses were performed to examine the relationship between midlife vascular risk factors, presence of the APOE ε4 allele, and cognitive change. APOE genotype significantly modified the associations between both midlife hypertension and cardiovascular disease and decline in language abilities as well as midlife diabetes and decline in verbal memory, attention, and visuospatial abilities. Associations between increased midlife vascular risk burden and greater cognitive decline were observed among APOE ε4 carriers but not non-carriers. The present findings revealed a subgroup at increased risk for cognitive decline (APOE ε4 carriers with midlife exposure to vascular risk factors) and suggest that treatment of vascular risk factors during midlife may reduce the risk of cognitive impairment later in life, particularly among APOE ε4 carriers.
PMCID: PMC3849195  PMID: 23601373
Apolipoprotein E; Cognition; Vascular Risk; Aging; Diabetes; Hypertension; Cardiovascular Disease

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