Given the importance of identifying dementia prodromes for future treatment efforts, we examined two methods of diagnosing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and determined whether empirically-derived MCI subtypes of these diagnostic methods were consistent with one another as well as with conventional MCI subtypes (i.e., amnestic, non-amnestic, single-domain, multi-domain). Participants were diagnosed with MCI using either conventional Petersen/Winblad criteria (n = 134; >1.5 SDs below normal on one test within a cognitive domain) or comprehensive neuropsychological criteria developed by Jak et al. (2009) (n = 80; >1 SD below normal on two tests within a domain), and the resulting samples were examined via hierarchical cluster and discriminant function analyses. Results showed that neuropsychological profiles varied depending on the criteria used to define MCI. Both criteria revealed an Amnestic subtype, consistent with prodromal Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and a Mixed subtype that may capture individuals in advanced stages of MCI. The comprehensive criteria uniquely yielded Dysexecutive and Visuospatial subtypes, whereas the conventional criteria produced a subtype that performed within normal limits, suggesting its susceptibility to false positive diagnostic errors. Whether these empirically-derived MCI subtypes correspond to dissociable neuropathologic substrates and represent reliable prodromes of dementia will require additional follow-up.
Mild cognitive impairment; Amnestic MCI; Non-amnestic MCI; Dementia; Cluster analysis; Neuropsychology
Memory tests are sensitive to early identification of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) but less useful as the disease advances. However, assessing particular types of recognition memory may better characterize dementia severity in later stages of AD. We sought to examine patterns of recognition memory deficits in individuals with AD and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Memory performance and global cognition data were collected from participants with AD (n=37), MCI (n=37), and cognitively intact older adults (normal controls, NC; n=35). One-way analyses of variance (ANOVAs) examined differences between groups on yes/no and forced-choice recognition measures. Individuals with amnestic MCI performed worse than NC and nonamnestic MCI participants on yes/no recognition, but were comparable on forced-choice recognition. AD patients were more impaired across yes/no and forced-choice recognition tasks. Individuals with mild AD (≥120 Dementia Rating Scale, DRS) performed better than those with moderate-to-severe AD (<120 DRS) on forced-choice recognition, but were equally impaired on yes/no recognition. There were differences in the relationships between learning, recall, and recognition performance across groups. Although yes/no recognition testing may be sensitive to MCI, forced-choice procedures may provide utility in assessing severity of anterograde amnesia in later stages of AD. Implications for assessment of insufficient effort and malingering are also discussed.
Recognition memory; Alzheimer’s disease; Mild cognitive impairment; Dementia severity; Neuropsychology
Both the prevalence and incidence of HIV infection among older adults are on the rise. Older adults are at increased risk of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders, which has historically been characterized as an inconsistent or “spotty” pattern of deficits. Dispersion is a form of intraindividual variability (IIV) that is defined as within-person variability in performance across domains and has been associated with poorer neurocognitive functioning and incipient decline among healthy older adults. To our knowledge, no studies have yet examined dispersion in an aging HIV-infected sample.
For the current study we examined the hypothesis that age and HIV infection have synergistic effects on dispersion across a battery of clinical and experimental cognitive tasks. Our well-characterized sample comprised 126 HIV-seropositive individuals (HIV+) and 40 HIV-seronegative comparison individuals (HIV−), all of whom were administered a comprehensive neuropsychological battery.
Consistent with our hypothesis, an age by HIV serostatus interaction was observed, with the older HIV+ group demonstrating a higher level of dispersion relative to older HIV− and younger HIV+ individuals, even when potentially confounding demographic and medical factors were controlled.
Our results demonstrate that older HIV+ adults produce greater dispersion, or intraindividual variability in performance across a range of tests, which may be reflective of cognitive dyscontrol to which this population is vulnerable, perhaps driven by the combined effects of aging and HIV infection on prefrontostriatal systems.
HIV; aging; neuropsychological assessment; variability
Elevated pulse pressure (PP) is associated with cognitive decline and increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in older adults, although the mechanisms behind these associations remain unclear. To address this question, we examined whether antemortem late-life PP elevation predicted vascular or AD pathology in autopsy-confirmed AD patients. Sixty-five elderly patients (mean age 74.2 years) clinically diagnosed with possible or probable AD underwent neuropsychological testing and blood pressure examinations. Postmortem histopathological measures of cerebrovascular disease (CVD) and AD neuropathology were later obtained on these same patients. We expected that antemortem PP elevation, but not standard blood pressure measures such as systolic or diastolic blood pressure, would predict the autopsy-based presence of CVD, and possibly AD pathology, in elderly AD patients. Results demonstrated that antemortem PP elevation was associated with the presence and severity of CVD at autopsy. For every 5 mmHg increase in antemortem PP there was an estimated 36% increase in the odds of having CVD at autopsy. Additionally, PP accounted for 12% of variance in CVD severity. No significant associations were present for cerebral amyloid angiopathy or Braak and Braak staging of the severity of AD pathology. Other standard blood pressure measures also did not significantly predict neuropathology. The association between antemortem PP and CVD at autopsy suggests that in older adults with AD, PP elevation may increase the risk of CVD. These findings may have treatment implications since some antihypertensive medications specifically address the pulsatile component of blood pressure (e.g., renin-angiotensin system inhibitors, calcium channel blockers).
Alzheimer’s disease; blood pressure; cerebrovascular disease; pulse pressure
Medial temporal lobe and temporoparietal brain regions are among the earliest neocortical sites to undergo pathophysiologic alterations in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), although the underlying white matter changes in these regions is less well known. We employed diffusion tensor imaging to evaluate early alterations in regional white matter integrity in participants diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The following regions of interests (ROIs) were examined: 1) anterior cingulum (AC); 2) posterior cingulum (PC); 3) genu of the corpus callosum; 4) splenium of the corpus callosum; and 5) as a control site for comparison, posterior limb of the internal capsule. Forty nondemented participants were divided into demographically-similar groups based on cognitive status (MCI: n = 20; normal control: n = 20), and fractional anisotropy (FA) estimates of each ROI were obtained. MCI participants showed greater posterior white matter (i.e., PC, splenium) but not anterior white matter (i.e., AC, genu) changes, after adjusting for age, stroke risk, and whole brain volume. FA differences of the posterior white matter were best accounted for by changes in radial but not axial diffusivity. PC FA was also significantly positively correlated with hippocampal volume as well as with performance on tests of verbal memory, whereas stroke risk was significantly correlated with genu FA and was unrelated to PC FA. When investigating subtypes of our MCI population, amnestic MCI participants showed lower PC white matter integrity relative to those with non-amnestic MCI. Findings implicate involvement of posterior microstructural white matter degeneration in the development of MCI-related cognitive changes and suggest that reduced FA of the PC may be a candidate neuroimaging marker of AD risk.
Aging; diffusion tensor imaging; memory; mild cognitive impairment; posterior cingulum; white matter
The age-prospective memory (PM) paradox asserts that, despite evidence of age-associated PM deficits on laboratory tasks, older adults perform comparably to (or better than) young adults on naturalistic PM tasks. This study examined the age-PM paradox in older HIV-infected individuals, who represent a growing epidemic and may be at heightened risk for adverse neurocognitive and everyday functioning outcomes. Participants included 88 older (50+ years) and 53 younger (≤40 years) HIV-infected individuals as well as 54 older and 59 younger seronegative adults who completed both laboratory and naturalistic time-based PM tasks. Similar interactions were observed in both the seropositive and the seronegative samples, such that the older participants demonstrated significantly lower laboratory-based PM than the younger groups, but not on the naturalistic PM trial. Secondary analyses within the HIV+ sample revealed that naturalistic task success was indirectly associated with greater self-reported use of PM-based and external compensatory strategies in the daily lives of older, but not younger, HIV+ adults. Study findings suggest that, although older HIV-infected adults exhibit moderate PM deficits on laboratory measures versus their younger counterparts, such impairments are paradoxically not evident on ecologically relevant naturalistic PM activities in daily life, perhaps related to effective utilization compensatory strategies.
Episodic memory; Aging; Neuropsychological assessment; AIDS dementia complex; Cognition
Background and objective
We examined the relationship between self-reported pre- and post-injury changes in executive dysfunction, apathy, disinhibition, and depression, and performance on neuropsychological tests of executive function, attention/processing speed, and memory in relation to mood levels and effort test performance in individuals in the early stages of recovery from mild to moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Participants were 71 noncombat military personnel who were in a semiacute stage of recovery (<3 months post injury) from mild to moderate TBI. Pre- and post-TBI behaviors were assessed with the Frontal Systems Behavior Scale (FrSBe; Grace & Malloy, 2001) and correlated with levels of depressive symptoms, effort test performance, and performance on objective measures of attention, executive function, and memory.
Self-reported symptoms of executive dysfunction generally failed to predict performance on objective measures of executive function and memory, although they predicted poorer performance on measures of attention/processing speed. Instead, higher levels of depressive symptomatology best predicted poorer performance on measures of executive function and memory. However, the relationship between memory performance and TBI symptoms was no longer significant when effort performance was controlled.
Our findings suggest that, among individuals in early recovery from mild to moderate TBI, self-reported depressive symptoms, rather than patients’ cognitive complaints, are associated with objective executive function. However, self-reported cognitive complaints may be associated with objectively measured inattention and slow processing speed.
Traumatic brain injury; Neuropsychology; Cognition; Behavior; Depression
Using cluster analysis Libon et al. (2010) found three verbal serial list-learning profiles involving delay memory test performance in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Amnesic MCI (aMCI) patients presented with low scores on delay free recall and recognition tests; mixed MCI (mxMCI) patients scored higher on recognition compared to delay free recall tests; and dysexecutive MCI (dMCI) patients generated relatively intact scores on both delay test conditions. The aim of the current research was to further characterize memory impairment in MCI by examining forgetting/savings, interference from a competing word list, intrusion errors/perseverations, intrusion word frequency, and recognition foils in these three statistically determined MCI groups compared to normal control (NC) participants. The aMCI patients exhibited little savings, generated more highly prototypic intrusion errors, and displayed indiscriminate responding to delayed recognition foils. The mxMCI patients exhibited higher saving scores, fewer and less prototypic intrusion errors, and selectively endorsed recognition foils from the interference list. dMCI patients also selectively endorsed recognition foils from the interference list but performed similarly compared to NC participants. These data suggest the existence of distinct memory impairments in MCI and caution against the routine use of a single memory test score to operationally define MCI.
Mild cognitive impairment; MCI; Declarative memory; Executive control; Philadelphia (repeatable) Verbal Learning Test; P(r)VLT; Cluster analysis; Boston Process Approach
Libon et al. (2010) provided evidence for three statistically determined clusters of patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI): amnesic (aMCI), dysexecutive (dMCI), and mixed (mxMCI). The current study further examined dysexecutive impairment in MCI using the framework of Fuster's (1997) derailed temporal gradients, that is, declining performance on executive tests over time or test epoch. Temporal gradients were operationally defined by calculating the slope of aggregate letter fluency output across 15-s epochs and accuracy indices for initial, middle, and latter triads from the Wechsler Memory Scale-Mental Control subtest (Boston Revision). For letter fluency, slope was steeper for dMCI compared to aMCI and NC groups. Between-group Mental Control analyses for triad 1 revealed worse dMCI performance than NC participants. On triad 2, dMCI scored lower than aMCI and NCs; on triad 3, mxMCI performed worse versus NCs. Within-group Mental Control analyses yielded equal performance across all triads for aMCI and NC participants. mxMCI scored lower on triad 1 compared to triads 2 and 3. dMCI participants also performed worse on triad 1 compared to triads 2 and 3, but scored higher on triad 3 versus triad 2. These data suggest impaired temporal gradients may provide a useful heuristic for understanding dysexecutive impairment in MCI.
Mild cognitive impairment; Single domain mild cognitive impairment; Multiple domain mild cognitive impairment; Alzheimer's disease; The Titanic Effect; Executive control
Recent studies suggest that older human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected adults are at particular risk for HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND), including dementia. Deficits in attention/working memory are posited to play a central role in the development of HAND among older adults. The aim of the present study was to examine the possible protective benefits of spontaneous strategy use during a visual working memory task in 46 older and 42 younger adults infected with HIV. Results revealed a significant interaction between age and strategy use, with older adults who used a meta-cognitive strategy demonstrating superior working memory performance versus non-strategy users. This effect was not observed in the younger HIV-infected sample and was not better explained by possible confounding factors, such as education, comorbid medical conditions, or HIV disease severity. Within the older group, strategy use was associated with better executive functions and higher estimated verbal intelligence. Findings from this study suggest that working memory declines in older HIV-infected adults are moderated by the use of higher-level mnemonic strategies and may inform cognitive neurorehabilitation efforts to improve cognitive and everyday functioning outcomes in older persons living with HIV infection.
Human immunodeficiency virus; Working memory; Aging; Strategies; Neuropsychology
Forty nondemented older adults who were divided into two groups on the basis of their cognitive status (MCI: n=20; Normal Control: n=20) underwent diffusion tensor imaging, and estimates of fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) were obtained for the genu and splenium of the corpus callosum. Results demonstrated the following: (1) group comparisons revealed that splenium FA was significantly lower in MCI participants than in NC participants, despite no differences in gross morphometry or hippocampal volumes; (2) in the overall sample, higher stroke risk was associated with lower white matter integrity, particularly in the genu; (3) increased stroke risk was more strongly associated with poorer splenium FA in those with MCI than in normal elderly; and (4) splenium FA significantly predicted performance on verbal memory (adjusting for the effects of age, education, and whole brain volume). Findings demonstrate a relationship between increased vascular burden and white matter changes, and they support the possibility that posterior white matter pathology may contribute to the development of MCI-related cognitive changes.
MCI; mild cognitive impairment; stroke risk; Framingham; aging; white matter; diffusion tensor imaging; DTI
Recent language studies in aging and dementia provide two complementary lines of evidence that: (1) measures of semantic knowledge and word-finding ability show declines comparable to those of episodic memory, and greater impairment than executive function measures, during the prodromal period of Alzheimer’s disease and (2) cognitively intact older adult carriers of the apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 allele also demonstrate poorer object naming than their low-risk peers. Given that possible changes in the neural substrates of word retrieval (e.g., Broca’s area and fusiform gyrus) in at-risk adults may signal impending cognitive decline and serve as a prodromal marker of AD, we examined whether APOE ε4 carriers exhibit changes in brain response in regions subserving word retrieval and semantic knowledge. Eleven cognitively intact APOE ε4 older adults and 11 age, education, and family history of AD-matched APOE ε3 adults named aloud photographs of animals, tools, and vehicles during event-related fMRI. Results showed that, in the face of equivalent naming accuracy, APOE ε4 adults demonstrated more widespread brain response with greater signal change in the left fusiform gyrus, bilateral medial prefrontal cortex, and right perisylvian cortex. Findings are discussed in the context of possible compensatory mechanisms invoked to maintain performance in those at genetic risk for AD.
apolipoprotein E; language; fMRI; word retrieval; confrontation naming
Genetic factors are known to play a role in Alzheimer's disease (AD) vulnerability, yet less than 1% of incident AD cases are directly linked to genetic causes, suggesting that environmental variables likely play a role in the majority of cases. Several recent human and animal studies have examined the effects of behavioral factors, specifically psychological stress and exercise, on AD vulnerability. Numerous animal studies have found that, while stress exacerbates neuropathological changes associated with AD, exercise reduces these changes. Some human studies suggest that psychological stress can increase the risk of developing AD, while other studies suggest that exercise can significantly reduce AD risk. Most animal studies investigating the mechanisms responsible for the effects of these behavioral factors have focused on neuronal processes, including the effects of stress hormones and neurotrophic factors on the neuro-pathological hallmarks of AD, namely amyloid-beta (Aβ) deposition and tau-phosphorylation. However, cumulative evidence indicates that, in humans, AD is associated with the presence of cerebrovascular disease, and cardiovascular risk factors are associated with increased risk of developing AD. There is an extensive literature demonstrating that behavioral factors, particularly stress and exercise, can powerfully modulate the pathophysiology of vascular disease. Thus, the following model proposes that the influence of stress and exercise on AD risk may be partially due to the effects of these behavioral factors on vascular homeostasis and pathology. These effects are likely due to both indirect modification of AD risk through alterations in vascular risk factors, such as hypertension, diabetes, and aortic stiffening, as well as direct influence on the cerebrovasculature, including changes in cerebral blood flow, angiogenesis, and vascular disease. Future studies examining the effects of behavioral factors on AD risk should incorporate measures of both peripheral and cerebral vascular function to further our understanding of the mechanisms by which behavior can modify AD susceptibility. Greater knowledge of the molecular mechanisms behind these behavioral effects would further our understanding of the disease and lead to innovative treatment and preventive approaches.
This study examined whether distinct neuropsychological profiles could be delineated in a sample with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and whether white matter lesion (WML) burden contributed to MCI group differences. A heterogeneous, clinical sample of 70 older adults diagnosed with MCI was assessed using cognitive scores, and WML was quantified using a semi-automated, volumetric approach on T2-weighted fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) images. Using cluster and discriminant analyses, three distinct groups (Memory/Language, Executive/Processing Speed, and Pure Memory) were empirically derived based on cognitive scores. Results also showed a dose dependent relationship of WML burden to MCI subgroup, with the Executive/Processing Speed subgroup demonstrating significantly higher levels of WML pathology when compared to the other subgroups. In addition, there was a dissociation of lesion type by the two most impaired subgroups (Memory/Language and Executive/Processing Speed) such that the Memory/Language subgroup showed higher periventricular lesion (PVL) and lower deep white matter lesion (DWML) volumes, whereas the Executive/Processing Speed demonstrated higher DWML and lower PVL volumes. Results demonstrate that distinct MCI subgroups can be empirically derived and reliably differentiated from a heterogeneous MCI sample, and that these profiles differ according to WML burden. Overall, findings suggest different underlying pathologies within MCI and contribute to our understanding of MCI subtypes.
Mild cognitive impairment; MCI; Neuropsychology; WML; White matter lesion; White matter hyperintensity; Aging; Cognition
We studied the rare case of an older adult with dementia following herpes zoster encephalitis (HZE). This 71-year-old woman presented to us approximately 1 year following resolution of a rapid-onset episode of HZE, and subsequently underwent neuropsychological and neuroimaging examinations. Cognitive assessment revealed impairments in general cognitive functioning, verbal and nonverbal memory, executive functions, speed of information processing, attention/working memory, and motor skills. The patient’s neuroimaging data, when compared to a demographically similar healthy control sample (n = 9), demonstrated moderate central and perisylvian brain volume loss, several subcortical lesions in the white matter, and resting state whole brain and hippocampal hypoperfusion. These findings highlight neuropsychological changes evident in a dementia syndrome of this type, and they suggest that early identification and treatment of HZE has implications for the preservation of long-term cognitive functioning.
Herpes zoster; Encephalitis; MRI; Cognition; Dementia
There is increasing consensus regarding the importance of operationally defining and measuring functional decline in mild cognitive impairment (MCI). However, few studies have directly examined functional abilities in MCI or its presumed subtypes and, to date, reported findings have been discrepant. Nondemented older adults (n = 120) were administered a comprehensive cognitive battery measuring multiple domains as well as a performance-based functional ability measure. Participants were characterized as either cognitively normal, amnestic MCI, or non-amnestic MCI. MCI individuals demonstrated decrements in instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) relative to their cognitively normal counterparts. Specifically, participants with amnestic MCI demonstrated significant decrements in financial management, whereas those with non-amnestic MCI showed poorer performance in abilities related to health and safety. Moreover, decreased functional abilities were associated with decrements in global cognitive functioning but not memory or executive functions in the MCI participants. Finally, logistic regression demonstrated that functional abilities accurately predicted MCI subtype. Results support the need for better delineation of functional decline in MCI. Given the implications of functional status for MCI diagnosis and treatment, the direct assessment of functional abilities is recommended. Results further suggest performance-based IADL assessment may have utility in distinguishing MCI subtypes.
Mild cognitive impairment; Older adults; Neuropsychology; Activities of daily living; Amnestic; Nonamnestic
A wealth of evidence demonstrates that a prodromal period of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) exists for some years prior to the appearance of significant cognitive and functional declines required for the clinical diagnosis. This prodromal period of decline is characterized by a number of different neuropsychological and brain changes, and reliable identification of individuals prior to the development of significant clinical symptoms remains a top priority of research. In this review we provide an overview of those neuropsychological changes. In particular, we examine specific domains of cognition that appear to be negatively affected during the prodromal period of AD, and we review newer analytic strategies designed to examine cognitive asymmetries or discrepancies between higher-order cognitive functions versus fundamental skills. Finally, we provide a critical examination of the clinical concept of Mild Cognitive Impairment and offer suggestions for an increased focus on the impact of cerebrovascular disease (CVD) and CVD risk during the prodromal period of AD.
Neuropsychological contributions; Alzheimer’s disease; Prodromal expression; Mild Cognitive Impairment; Apolipoprotein E; Cerebrovascular; Very-Old
Wide-ranging conceptual and diagnostic approaches to defining mild cognitive impairment (MCI) have led to highly variable prevalence and progression rates. We sought to examine whether bilateral hippocampal volumes and cerebrovascular risk factors in individuals characterized by two different neuropsychological definitions of MCI subtypes would also differ. Participants were 65 nondemented, community-dwelling, older adults, ages 62–91 years, drawn from a larger group of individuals enrolled in a longitudinal study of normal aging. A comprehensive neuropsychological definition of MCI that required the presence of more than one impaired score in a cognitive domain resulted in expected anatomical results; hippocampal volumes were significantly smaller in the aMCI group as compared to cognitively normal or nonamnestic MCI participants. However, a typical definitional scheme for classifying MCI based only on the presence of one impaired score within a cognitive domain did not result in hippocampal differences between groups. Global stroke risk factors did not differ between the two definitional schemes, although the relationship between stroke risk variables and neuropsychological performance did vary by diagnostic approach. The comprehensive approach demonstrated associations between stroke risk and cognition, whereas the typical approach did not. Use of more sophisticated clinical decision-making and diagnostic approaches that incorporate comprehensive neuropsychological assessment techniques is supported by this convergence of neuropsychological, neuropathological, and stroke risk findings.
Mild cognitive impairment; Neuroimaging; Neuropsychology; Older adults; Memory; Executive functioning; Stroke risk; Diagnosis; Amnestic; Nonamnestic
The original conceptualization of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) was primarily as an amnestic disorder representing an intermediate stage between normal aging and Alzheimer’s dementia (AD). More recently, broader conceptualizations of MCI have emerged that also encompass cognitive domains other than memory. These characterizations delineate clinical subtypes that commonly include amnestic and non-amnestic forms, and that involve single and multiple cognitive domains. With the advent of these broader classifications, more specific information is emerging regarding the neuropsychological presentation of individuals with MCI, risk for dementia associated with different subtypes of MCI, and neuropathologic substrates connected to the clinical subtypes. This review provides an overview of this burgeoning literature specific to clinical subtypes of MCI. Focus is primarily on neuropsychological and structural neuroimaging findings specific to clinical subtypes of MCI as well as the issue of daily functioning. Although investigations of non-amnestic subtypes using advanced neuroimaging techniques and clinical trials are quite limited, we briefly review these topics in MCI because these data provide a framework for future investigations specifically examining additional clinical subtypes of MCI. Finally, the review comments on select methodological issues involved in studying this heterogeneous population, and future directions to continue to improve our understanding of MCI and its clinical subtypes are offered.
Stroke risk factors have been increasingly implicated in the development of age-related cognitive decline, the spectrum of vascular cognitive impairment, and, more recently, Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In addition, depression and the apolipoprotein (APOE) ε4 allele have been reported to influence the association between stroke risk and cognition. However, few studies have described the relations among stroke risk, cognition, and APOE genotype in AD, and the findings have been equivocal.
Thirty cognitively normal older adults, 30 AD patients with depression, and 30 AD patients without depression were administered a comprehensive neuropsychological battery measuring several domains including memory, attention, language, visuospatial skills, executive functions, and speed of information processing. The Framingham Stroke Risk Profile (FSRP), a validated scale that was developed to predict 10-year probability of stroke, was used to quantify stroke risk burden.
AD patients with depression demonstrated greater stroke risk burden relative to the cognitively normal group and, across all participants, increased stroke risk was associated with poorer performance on memory and processing speed measures. Moreover, stroke risk accurately predicted AD diagnosis. Notably, there were no significant differences in stroke risk or cognitive performance between the AD participants with depression and those without depression.
Given that many markers of stroke risk are modifiable or treatable, our findings have implications for assessment, prevention, and treatment of cognitive decline.
Alzheimer’s disease; depression; stroke risk; apolipoprotein E; cognition
Operational definitions of cognitive impairment have varied widely in diagnosing mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Identifying clinical subtypes of MCI has further challenged diagnostic approaches, since varying the components of the objective cognitive assessment can significantly impact diagnosis. Therefore, we investigated the applicability of diagnostic criteria for clinical subtypes of MCI in a naturalistic research sample of community elders and quantified the variability in diagnostic outcomes that results from modifying the neuropsychological definition of objective cognitive impairment.
Cross-sectional and longitudinal study
San Diego, CA, Veterans Administration Hospital
90 nondemented, neurologically normal, community-dwelling older adults were initially assessed and 73 were seen for follow-up approximately 17 months later.
Participants were classified via consensus diagnosis as either normally aging or having MCI via each of five diagnostic strategies, which varied the cutoff for objective impairment as well as the number of neuropsychological tests considered in the diagnostic process.
A range of differences in the percentages identified as MCI versus cognitively normal were demonstrated, depending on the classification criteria employed. A substantial minority of individuals demonstrated diagnostic instability over time as well as across diagnostic approaches. The single domain non-amnestic subtype diagnosis was particularly unstable (e.g., prone to reclassification as normal at follow up).
Our findings provide empirical support for a neuropsychologically derived operational definition of clinical subtypes of MCI and point to the importance of using comprehensive neuropsychological assessments. Diagnoses, particularly involving non-amnestic MCI, were variable over time. The applicability and utility of this particular MCI subtype warrants further investigation.
mild cognitive impairment; clinical subtypes; neuropsychology; diagnosis; longitudinal
The association between the epsilon-4 type allele of apolipoprotein E (APOE ε4) and depression was investigated in 323 AD patients. Patients were divided into two groups based on the presence (n=61) or absence (n=262) of depression as assessed by the DSM-based Diagnostic Interview Schedule. Both subgroups were demographically comparable with regard to age, education, gender, and severity of cognitive impairment. Analysis of the frequency of APOE ε4 alleles between the groups revealed a significantly higher prevalence rate of the APOE ε4 genotype in the depressed group (72% of depressed AD patients carried at least one copy of the ε4 allele) compared to the non-depressed AD patients (58%). This effect was primarily accounted for by women. Specifically, an interaction was revealed wherein women who possessed the APOE ε4 allele were almost 4 times more likely to be depressed in comparison to those who did not carry the allele, and APOE ε4 status did not predict depression among men in our sample. These results are consistent with recent suggestions that the APOE ε4 genotype may be over-represented among women with AD and depression and highlight a need for additional research investigating the links between APOE genotype, mood, and gender.