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Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 2015 Jan-Mar;29(1):18-25. doi: 10.1097/WAD.0000000000000043.

Vascular disease and risk factors are associated with cognitive decline in the alzheimer disease spectrum.

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*Department of Neurology, Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment, Brigham and Women's Hospital Departments of †Neurology ‡Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.


We investigated the relationship between vascular disease and risk factors versus cognitive decline cross-sectionally and longitudinally in normal older control, mild cognitive impairment, and mild Alzheimer disease (AD) dementia subjects. A total of 812 participants (229 normal older control, 395 mild cognitive impairment, 188 AD) underwent cognitive testing, brain magnetic resonance imaging, and clinical evaluations at baseline and over a period of 3 years. General linear, longitudinal mixed-effects, and Cox proportional hazards models were used. Greater homocysteine level and white matter hyperintensity volume were associated with processing speed impairment (homocysteine: P=0.02; white matter hyperintensity: P<0.0001); greater Vascular Index score was associated with memory impairment (P=0.007); and greater number of apolipoprotein E ε4 (APOE4) alleles was associated with global cognitive impairment (P=0.007) at baseline. Apolipoprotein E ε4 was associated with greater rate of increase in global cognitive impairment (P=0.002) and processing speed impairment (P=0.001) over time, whereas higher total cholesterol was associated with greater rate of increase in global cognitive impairment (P=0.02) and memory impairment (P=0.06) over time. These results suggest a significant association of increased vascular disease and risk factors with cognitive impairment at baseline and over time in the AD spectrum in a sample that was selected to have low vascular burden at baseline.

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