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To describe the neuroimaging and other methods for assessing vascular contributions to neurodegeneration in the Comprehensive Assessment of Neurodegeneration and Dementia (COMPASS-ND) study, a Canadian multi-center, prospective longitudinal cohort study, including reliability and feasibility in the first 200 participants.
COMPASS-ND includes persons with Alzheimer’s disease (AD; n = 150), Parkinson’s disease (PD) and Lewy body dementias (LBDs) (200), mixed dementia (200), mild cognitive impairment (MCI; 400), subcortical ischemic vascular MCI (V-MCI; 200), subjective cognitive impairment (SCI; 300), and cognitively intact elderly controls (660). Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was acquired according to the validated Canadian Dementia Imaging Protocol and visually reviewed by either of two experienced readers blinded to clinical characteristics. Other relevant assessments include history of vascular disease and risk factors, blood pressure, height and weight, cholesterol, glucose, and hemoglobin A1c.
Analyzable data were obtained in 197/200 of whom 18 of whom were clinically diagnosed with V-MCI or mixed dementia. The overall prevalence of infarcts was 24.9%, microbleeds was 24.6%, and high white matter hyperintensity (WMH) was 31.0%. MRI evidence of a potential vascular contribution to neurodegeneration was seen in 12.9%–40.0% of participants clinically diagnosed with another condition such as AD. Inter-rater reliability was good to excellent.
COMPASS-ND will be a useful platform to study vascular brain injury and its association with risk factors, biomarkers, and cognitive and functional decline across multiple age-related neurodegenerative diseases. Initial findings show that MRI-defined vascular brain injury is common in all cognitive syndromes and is under-recognized clinically.
The Comprehensive Assessment of Neurodegeneration and Dementia (COMPASS-ND) cohort study of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA) is a national initiative to catalyze research on dementia, set up to support the research agendas of CCNA teams. This cross-country longitudinal cohort of 2310 deeply phenotyped subjects with various forms of dementia and mild memory loss or concerns, along with cognitively intact elderly subjects, will test hypotheses generated by these teams.
The COMPASS-ND protocol, initial grant proposal for funding, fifth semi-annual CCNA Progress Report submitted to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research December 2017, and other documents supplemented by modifications made and lessons learned after implementation were used by the authors to create the description of the study provided here.
The CCNA COMPASS-ND cohort includes participants from across Canada with various cognitive conditions associated with or at risk of neurodegenerative diseases. They will undergo a wide range of experimental, clinical, imaging, and genetic investigation to specifically address the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of these conditions in the aging population. Data derived from clinical and cognitive assessments, biospecimens, brain imaging, genetics, and brain donations will be used to test hypotheses generated by CCNA research teams and other Canadian researchers. The study is the most comprehensive and ambitious Canadian study of dementia. Initial data posting occurred in 2018, with the full cohort to be accrued by 2020.
Availability of data from the COMPASS-ND study will provide a major stimulus for dementia research in Canada in the coming years.