To evaluate the combination of cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers of Aβ42, tau, and phosphorylated tau (ptau181) with education and normalized whole brain volume (nWBV) to predict incident cognitive impairment and test the cognitive/brain reserve hypothesis.
Longitudinal cohort study.
Charles F. and Joanne Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center of Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri.
Convenience sample of 197 participants aged 50 years and above, with normal cognition (Clinical Dementia Rating [CDR] of 0) at baseline, followed for a mean of 3.3 years.
Main outcome measure
Time to cognitive impairment (CDR ≥ 0.5).
Three-factor interactions between the baseline biomarker values, education, and nWBV were found for Cox proportional hazards models testing tau (p=.03) and ptau (p=.008). Among those with lower tau values, nWBV (hazard ratio [HR]=.54, 95% confidence interval [CI]=.31–.91; p=.02), but not education, was related to time to cognitive impairment. For participants with higher tau values, education interacted with nWBV to predict incident impairment (p=.01). For individuals with lower ptau values, there was no effect of education or nWBV. Education interacted with nWBV to predict incident cognitive impairment among those with higher ptau values (p=.02). In models testing Aβ42, larger nWBV was associated with a slower time to cognitive impairment (HR=.84, 95%CI=.71–.99, p=.0348), but there was no effect of Aβ42 or education.
Among individuals with higher levels of CSF tau and ptau, but normal cognition at baseline, time to incident cognitive impairment is moderated by education and brain volume as predicted by the cognitive/brain reserve hypothesis.