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Disentangling Sex-Dependent Effects of APOE on Diverse Trajectories of Cognitive Decline in Alzheimer's Disease.

NeuroImage 2024 April 12
Current diagnostic systems for Alzheimer's disease (AD) rely upon clinical signs and symptoms, despite the fact that the multiplicity of clinical symptoms renders various neuropsychological assessments inadequate to reflect the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms. Since putative neuroimaging biomarkers play a crucial role in understanding the etiology of AD, we sought to stratify the diverse relationships between AD biomarkers and cognitive decline in the aging population and uncover risk factors contributing to the diversities in AD. To do so, we capitalized on a large amount of neuroimaging data from the ADNI study to examine the inflection points along the dynamic relationship between cognitive decline trajectories and whole-brain neuroimaging biomarkers, using a state-of-the-art statistical model of change point detection. Our findings indicated that the temporal relationship between AD biomarkers and cognitive decline may differ depending on the synergistic effect of genetic risk and biological sex. Specifically, tauopathy-PET biomarkers exhibit a more dynamic and age-dependent association with Mini-Mental State Examination scores (p < 0.05), with inflection points at 72, 78, and 83 years old, compared with amyloid-PET and neurodegeneration (cortical thickness from MRI) biomarkers. In the landscape of health disparities in AD, our analysis indicated that biological sex moderates the rate of cognitive decline associated with APOE4 genotype. Meanwhile, we found that higher education levels may moderate the effect of APOE4, acting as a marker of cognitive reserve.

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