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Lancet Neurol. 2019 Oct;18(10):942-952. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(19)30228-5. Epub 2019 Aug 20.

Associations between blood pressure across adulthood and late-life brain structure and pathology in the neuroscience substudy of the 1946 British birth cohort (Insight 46): an epidemiological study.

Author information

1
Dementia Research Centre, University College London Queen Square Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, UK.
2
Dementia Research Centre, University College London Queen Square Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, UK; Department of Medical Statistics, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London, London, UK.
3
Dementia Research Centre, University College London Queen Square Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, UK; School of Biomedical Engineering and Imaging Sciences, King's College London, London, UK.
4
Medical Research Council Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at University College London, London, UK.
5
Institute of Nuclear Medicine, University College London Hospitals, London, UK.
6
Leonard Wolfson Experimental Neurology Centre and Academic Neuroradiological Unit, Department of Brain Repair and Rehabilitation, University College London Queen Square Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, UK.
7
Dementia Research Centre, University College London Queen Square Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, UK; UK Dementia Research Institute at University College London, University College London, London, UK.
8
Dementia Research Centre, University College London Queen Square Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, UK; UK Dementia Research Institute at University College London, University College London, London, UK. Electronic address: j.schott@ucl.ac.uk.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Midlife hypertension confers increased risk for cognitive impairment in late life. The sensitive period for risk exposure and extent that risk is mediated through amyloid or vascular-related mechanisms are poorly understood. We aimed to identify if, and when, blood pressure or change in blood pressure during adulthood were associated with late-life brain structure, pathology, and cognition.

METHODS:

Participants were from Insight 46, a neuroscience substudy of the ongoing longitudinal Medical Research Council National Survey of Health and Development, a birth cohort that initially comprised 5362 individuals born throughout mainland Britain in one week in 1946. Participants aged 69-71 years received T1 and FLAIR volumetric MRI, florbetapir amyloid-PET imaging, and cognitive assessment at University College London (London, UK); all participants were dementia-free. Blood pressure measurements had been collected at ages 36, 43, 53, 60-64, and 69 years. We also calculated blood pressure change variables between ages. Primary outcome measures were white matter hyperintensity volume (WMHV) quantified from multimodal MRI using an automated method, amyloid-β positivity or negativity using a standardised uptake value ratio approach, whole-brain and hippocampal volumes quantified from 3D-T1 MRI, and a composite cognitive score-the Preclinical Alzheimer Cognitive Composite (PACC). We investigated associations between blood pressure and blood pressure changes at and between 36, 43, 53, 60-64, and 69 years of age with WMHV using generalised linear models with a gamma distribution and log link function, amyloid-β status using logistic regression, whole-brain volume and hippocampal volumes using linear regression, and PACC score using linear regression, with adjustment for potential confounders.

FINDINGS:

Between May 28, 2015, and Jan 10, 2018, 502 individuals were assessed as part of Insight 46. 465 participants (238 [51%] men; mean age 70·7 years [SD 0·7]; 83 [18%] amyloid-β-positive) were included in imaging analyses. Higher systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) at age 53 years and greater increases in SBP and DBP between 43 and 53 years were positively associated with WMHV at 69-71 years of age (increase in mean WMHV per 10 mm Hg greater SBP 7%, 95% CI 1-14, p=0·024; increase in mean WMHV per 10 mm Hg greater DBP 15%, 4-27, p=0·0057; increase in mean WMHV per one SD change in SBP 15%, 3-29, p=0·012; increase in mean WMHV per 1 SD change in DBP 15%, 3-30, p=0·017). Higher DBP at 43 years of age was associated with smaller whole-brain volume at 69-71 years of age (-6·9 mL per 10 mm Hg greater DBP, -11·9 to -1·9, p=0·0068), as were greater increases in DBP between 36 and 43 years of age (-6·5 mL per 1 SD change, -11·1 to -1·9, p=0·0054). Greater increases in SBP between 36 and 43 years of age were associated with smaller hippocampal volumes at 69-71 years of age (-0·03 mL per 1 SD change, -0·06 to -0·001, p=0·043). Neither absolute blood pressure nor change in blood pressure predicted amyloid-β status or PACC score at 69-71 years of age.

INTERPRETATION:

High and increasing blood pressure from early adulthood into midlife seems to be associated with increased WMHV and smaller brain volumes at 69-71 years of age. We found no evidence that blood pressure affected cognition or cerebral amyloid-β load at this age. Blood pressure monitoring and interventions might need to start around 40 years of age to maximise late-life brain health.

FUNDING:

Alzheimer's Research UK, Medical Research Council, Dementias Platform UK, Wellcome Trust, Brain Research UK, Wolfson Foundation, Weston Brain Institute, Avid Radiopharmaceuticals.

PMID:
31444142
PMCID:
PMC6744368
[Available on 2019-10-01]
DOI:
10.1016/S1474-4422(19)30228-5
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