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Neurobiol Aging. 2013 Apr;34(4):1045-50. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2012.08.008. Epub 2012 Oct 2.

Personality and resilience to Alzheimer's disease neuropathology: a prospective autopsy study.

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1
National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, MD 21224,, USA. TerraccianoA@mail.nih.gov

Abstract

Alzheimer's disease (AD) neuropathology is found at autopsy in approximately 30% of cognitively normal older individuals. We examined whether personality traits are associated with such resilience to clinical dementia in individuals with AD neuropathology. Broad factors and specific facets of personality were assessed up to 28 years (mean 11 ± 7 years) before onset of dementia and up to 30 years (mean 15 ± 7 years) before death in a cohort (n = 111) evaluated for AD neuropathology at autopsy. Individuals with higher baseline scores on vulnerability to stress, anxiety, and depression (neuroticism: odds ratio, 2.0; 95% confidence interval, 1.2-3.5), or lower scores on order and competence (conscientiousness: odds ratio, 0.4; 95% confidence interval, 0.2-0.9) were less likely to remain asymptomatic in the presence of AD neuropathology. Neuroticism (r = 0.26), low agreeableness (r = -0.34), and some facets were also significantly associated with advanced stages of neurofibrillary tangles, but the associations between personality traits and risk of clinical dementia were mostly unchanged by controlling for the extent of neurofibrillary tangles and Aβ neuritic plaques. In sum, a resilient personality profile is associated with lower risk or delay of clinical dementia even in persons with AD neuropathology.

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