Intellectual Stimulation Advantageous in Alzheimer Disease

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Higher educational level and increased cognitive activity has been associated with less amyloid deposition in <i>APOE4</i> carriers.
Higher educational level and increased cognitive activity has been associated with less amyloid deposition in APOE4 carriers.

HealthDay News -- Researcher from the Mayo Clinic have linked advanced education and increased midlife cognitive activity with effects on biomarkers of Alzheimer disease (AD) in older adults, according to a study published in Neurology.

Prashanthi Vemuri, PhD, and colleagues examined the effect of age, sex, APOE4 genotype, and lifestyle enrichment on AD biomarker trajectories in 393 participants without dementia from the Mayo Clinical Study of Aging. Participants to the study underwent cognitive and physical activity measures and 2 or more visits with imaging biomarkers. Imaging data included brain β-amyloid load via Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography (PET) and neurodegeneration via 18fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET and magnetic resonance imaging. The population of individuals aged 70 years and older was dichotomized into high (≥14 years) and low (<14 years) education levels.

The researchers found that age correlated with amyloid and neurodegeneration trajectories. The amyloid and FDG trajectories, but not the hippocampal volume trajectory were influenced by APOE4 status. High midlife cognitive activity correlated with lower amyloid deposition in APOE4 carriers in the high-education stratum. In the entire cohort, and in participants with lower education, APOE4 status correlated with lower FDG uptake.

"There were minimal effects of lifestyle enrichment on AD biomarker trajectories (specifically rates)," the authors write. "Differing education levels may explain the conflicting results seen in the literature."

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical technology industries.

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