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The correlation between neuropathology levels and cognitive performance in centenarians

Publication year 2023
Published in Alzheimer's & dementia : the journal of the Alzheimer's Association
Authors Meng Zhang, Andrea B Ganz, Susan Rohde, Linda Lorenz, A.J.M. Rozemuller, Kimberley van Vliet, Marieke Graat, Sietske A M Sikkes, Marcel J T Reinders, Philip Scheltens, Marc Hulsman, Jeroen J M Hoozemans, Henne Holstege

INTRODUCTION: Neuropathological substrates associated with neurodegeneration occur in brains of the oldest old. How does this affect cognitive performance?

METHODS: The 100-plus Study is an ongoing longitudinal cohort study of centenarians who self-report to be cognitively healthy; post mortem brain donation is optional. In 85 centenarian brains, we explored the correlations between the levels of 11 neuropathological substrates with ante mortem performance on 12 neuropsychological tests.

RESULTS: Levels of neuropathological substrates varied: we observed levels up to Thal-amyloid beta phase 5, Braak-neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) stage V, Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer’s Disease (CERAD)-neuritic plaque score 3, Thal-cerebral amyloid angiopathy stage 3, Tar-DNA binding protein 43 (TDP-43) stage 3, hippocampal sclerosis stage 1, Braak-Lewy bodies stage 6, atherosclerosis stage 3, cerebral infarcts stage 1, and cerebral atrophy stage 2. Granulovacuolar degeneration occurred in all centenarians. Some high performers had the highest neuropathology scores.

DISCUSSION: Only Braak-NFT stage and limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy (LATE) pathology associated significantly with performance across multiple cognitive domains. Of all cognitive tests, the clock-drawing test was particularly sensitive to levels of multiple neuropathologies.

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