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There are minimal data directly comparing plasma neurofilament light (NfL) and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) in aging and neurodegenerative disease research. We evaluated associations of plasma NfL and plasma GFAP with brain volume and cognition in two independent cohorts of older adults diagnosed as clinically normal (CN), mild cognitive impairment (MCI), or Alzheimer’s dementia.
We studied 121 total participants (Cohort 1: n = 50, age 71.6 ± 6.9 years, 78% CN, 22% MCI; Cohort 2: n = 71, age 72.2 ± 9.2 years, 45% CN, 25% MCI, 30% dementia). Gray and white matter volumes were obtained for total brain and broad subregions of interest (ROIs). Neuropsychological testing evaluated memory, executive functioning, language, and visuospatial abilities. Plasma samples were analyzed in duplicate for NfL and GFAP using single molecule array assays (Quanterix Simoa). Linear regression models with structural MRI and cognitive outcomes included plasma NfL and GFAP simultaneously along with relevant covariates.
Higher plasma GFAP was associated with lower white matter volume in both cohorts for temporal (Cohort 1: β = −0.33, p = .002; Cohort 2: β = −0.36, p = .03) and parietal ROIs (Cohort 1: β = −0.31, p = .01; Cohort 2: β = −0.35, p = .04). No consistent findings emerged for gray matter volumes. Higher plasma GFAP was associated with lower executive function scores (Cohort 1: β = −0.38, p = .01; Cohort 2: β = −0.36, p = .007). Plasma NfL was not associated with gray or white matter volumes, or cognition after adjusting for plasma GFAP.
Plasma GFAP may be more sensitive to white matter and cognitive changes than plasma NfL. Biomarkers reflecting astroglial pathophysiology may capture complex dynamics of aging and neurodegenerative disease.
The relationship between wisdom and fluid intelligence (Gf) is poorly understood, particularly in older adults. We empirically tested the magnitude of the correlation between wisdom and Gf to help determine the extent of overlap between these two constructs.
Cross-sectional study with preregistered hypotheses and well-powered analytic plan (https://osf.io/h3pjx).
Memory and Aging Center at the University of California San Francisco, located in the USA.
Wisdom was quantified using a well-validated self-report-based scale (San Diego Wisdom Scale or SD-WISE). Gf was assessed via composite measures of processing speed (Gf-PS) and executive functioning (Gf-EF). The relationships of SD-WISE scores to Gf-PS and Gf-EF were tested in bivariate correlational analyses and multiple regression models adjusted for demographics (age, sex, and education). Exploratory analyses evaluated the relationships between SD-WISE and age, episodic memory performance, and dorsolateral and ventromedial prefrontal cortical volumes on magnetic resonance imaging.
Wisdom showed a small, positive association with Gf-EF (r = 0.181 [95% CI 0.016, 0.336], p = .031), which was reduced to nonsignificance upon controlling for demographics, and no association with Gf-PS (r = 0.019 [95% CI −0.179, 0.216], p = .854). Wisdom demonstrated a small, negative correlation with age (r = −0.197 [95% CI −0.351, −0.033], p = .019), but was not significantly related to episodic memory or prefrontal volumes.
Our findings indicate that most of the variance in wisdom (>95%) is unaccounted for by Gf. The independence of wisdom from cognitive functions that reliably show age-associated declines suggests that it may hold unique potential to bolster decision-making, interpersonal functioning, and other everyday activities in older adults.
Objective: We evaluated whether memory recall following an extended (1 week) delay predicts cognitive and brain structural trajectories in older adults
Clinically normal older adults (52–92 years old) were followed longitudinally for up to 8 years after completing a memory paradigm at baseline [Story Recall Test (SRT)] that assessed delayed recall at 30 min and 1 week. Subsets of the cohort underwent neuroimaging (N = 134, mean age = 75) and neuropsychological testing (N = 178–207, mean ages = 74–76) at annual study visits occurring approximately 15–18 months apart. Mixed-effects regression models evaluated if baseline SRT performance predicted longitudinal changes in gray matter volumes and cognitive composite scores, controlling for demographics.
Worse SRT 1-week recall was associated with more precipitous rates of longitudinal decline in medial temporal lobe volumes (p = .037), episodic memory (p = .003), and executive functioning (p = .011), but not occipital lobe or total gray matter volumes (demonstrating neuroanatomical specificity; p > .58). By contrast, SRT 30-min recall was only associated with longitudinal decline in executive functioning (p = .044).
Memory paradigms that capture longer-term recall may be particularly sensitive to age-related medial temporal lobe changes and neurodegenerative disease trajectories. (JINS, 2020, xx, xx-xx)
Objectives: The present study constitutes the first randomized controlled trial to investigate the relation of lutein (L) and zeaxanthin (Z) to brain function using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). It was hypothesized that L and Z supplementation in older adults would enhance neural efficiency (i.e., reduce activation) and cognitive performance on a verbal learning task relative to placebo. Methods: A total of 44 community-dwelling older adults (mean age=72 years) were randomly assigned to receive either placebo or L+Z supplementation (12 mg/daily) for 1 year. Neurocognitive performance was assessed at baseline and post-intervention on an fMRI-adapted task involving learning and recalling word pairs. Imaging contrasts of blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) signal were created by subtracting active control trials from learning and recall trials. A flexible factorial model was employed to investigate the expected group (placebo vs. supplement) by time (baseline vs. post-intervention) interaction in pre-specified regions-of-interest. Results: L and Z appeared to buffer cognitive decline on the verbal learning task (Cohen’s d=.84). Significant interactions during learning were observed in left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex (p < .05, family-wise-error corrected). However, these effects were in the direction of increased rather than decreased BOLD signal. Although the omnibus interaction was not significant during recall, within-group contrasts revealed significant increases in left prefrontal activation in the supplement group only. Conclusions: L and Z supplementation appears to benefit neurocognitive function by enhancing cerebral perfusion, even if consumed for a discrete period of time in late life. (JINS, 2018, 24, 77–90)
Objectives: It is well known that the carotenoids lutein (L) and zeaxanthin (Z) improve eye health and an accumulating evidence base suggests cognitive benefits as well. The present study investigated underlying neural mechanisms using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). It was hypothesized that lower L and Z concentrations would be associated with neurobiological inefficiency (i.e., increased activation) during cognitive performance. Methods: Forty-three community-dwelling older adults (mean age=72 years; 58% female; 100% Caucasian) were asked to learn and recall pairs of unrelated words in an fMRI-adapted paradigm. L and Z levels were measured in retina (macular pigment optical density) and serum using validated procedures. Results: Following first-level contrasts of encoding and retrieval trials minus control trials (p<.05, family-wise error corrected, minimum voxel cluster=8), L and Z were found to significantly and negatively relate to blood-oxygen-level-dependent signal in central and parietal operculum cortex, inferior frontal gyrus, supramarginal gyrus, planum polare, frontal and middle temporal gyrus, superior parietal lobule, postcentral gyrus, precentral gyrus, occipital cortex bilaterally, and cerebellar regions. Conclusions: To the authors’ knowledge, the present study represents the first attempt to investigate neural mechanisms underlying the relation of L and Z to cognition using fMRI. The observed results suggest that L and Z promote cognitive functioning in old age by enhancing neural efficiency. (JINS, 2017, 23, 11–22)
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