Subgroup of ADNI Normal Controls Characterized by Atrophy and Cognitive Decline Associated With Vascular Damage

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Abstract

Previous work examining Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) normal controls using cluster analysis identified a subgroup characterized by substantial brain atrophy and white matter hyperintensities (WMH). We hypothesized that these effects could be related to vascular damage. Fifty-three individuals in the suspected vascular cluster (Normal 2) were compared with 31 individuals from the cluster characterized as healthy/typical (Normal 1) on a variety of outcomes, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers, vascular risk factors and outcomes, cognitive trajectory, and medications for vascular conditions. Normal 2 was significantly older but did not differ on ApoE4+ prevalence. Normal 2 differed significantly from Normal 1 on all MRI measures but not on Amyloid-Beta1-42 or total tau protein. Normal 2 had significantly higher body mass index (BMI), Hachinksi score, and creatinine levels, and took significantly more medications for vascular conditions. Normal 2 had marginally significantly higher triglycerides and blood glucose. Normal 2 had a worse cognitive trajectory on the Rey's Auditory Verbal Learning Test (RAVLT) 30-min delay test and the Functional Activity Questionnaire (FAQ). Cerebral atrophy associated with multiple vascular risks is common among cognitively normal individuals, forming a distinct subgroup with significantly increased cognitive decline. Further studies are needed to determine the clinical impact of these findings.

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