Advanced brain aging: Relationship with epidemiologic and genetic risk factors, and overlap with Alzheimer disease atrophy patterns

M. Habes, D. Janowitz, G. Erus, J. B. Toledo, S. M. Resnick, J. Doshi, S. Van Der Auwera, K. Wittfeld, K. Hegenscheid, N. Hosten, R. Biffar, G. Homuth, H. Völzke, H. J. Grabe, W. Hoffmann, C. Davatzikos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


We systematically compared structural imaging patterns of advanced brain aging (ABA) in the general-population, herein defined as significant deviation from typical BA to those found in Alzheimer disease (AD). The hypothesis that ABA would show different patterns of structural change compared with those found in AD was tested via advanced pattern analysis methods. In particular, magnetic resonance images of 2705 participants from the Study of Health in Pomerania (aged 20-90 years) were analyzed using an index that captures aging atrophy patterns (Spatial Pattern of Atrophy for Recognition of BA (SPARE-BA)), and an index previously shown to capture atrophy patterns found in clinical AD (Spatial Patterns of Abnormality for Recognition of Early Alzheimer's Disease (SPARE-AD)). We studied the association between these indices and risk factors, including an AD polygenic risk score. Finally, we compared the ABA-associated atrophy with typical AD-like patterns. We observed that SPARE-BA had significant association with: smoking (P<0.05), anti-hypertensive (P<0.05), anti-diabetic drug use (men P<0.05, women P=0.06) and waist circumference for the male cohort (P<0.05), after adjusting for age. Subjects with ABA had spatially extensive gray matter loss in the frontal, parietal and temporal lobes (false-discovery-rate-corrected q<0.001). ABA patterns of atrophy were partially overlapping with, but notably deviating from those typically found in AD. Subjects with ABA had higher SPARE-AD values; largely due to the partial spatial overlap of associated patterns in temporal regions. The AD polygenic risk score was significantly associated with SPARE-AD but not with SPARE-BA. Our findings suggest that ABA is likely characterized by pathophysiologic mechanisms that are distinct from, or only partially overlapping with those of AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere775
JournalTranslational psychiatry
StatePublished - Apr 5 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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