Genetic and Clinical Correlates of AI-Based Brain Aging Patterns in Cognitively Unimpaired Individuals

Ioanna Skampardoni, Ilya M. Nasrallah, Ahmed Abdulkadir, Junhao Wen, Randa Melhem, Elizabeth Mamourian, Guray Erus, Jimit Doshi, Ashish Singh, Zhijian Yang, Yuhan Cui, Gyujoon Hwang, Zheng Ren, Raymond Pomponio, Dhivya Srinivasan, Sindhuja Tirumalai Govindarajan, Paraskevi Parmpi, Katharina Wittfeld, Hans J. Grabe, Robin BülowStefan Frenzel, Duygu Tosun, Murat Bilgel, Yang An, Daniel S. Marcus, Pamela Lamontagne, Susan R. Heckbert, Thomas R. Austin, Lenore J. Launer, Aristeidis Sotiras, Mark A. Espeland, Colin L. Masters, Paul Maruff, Jurgen Fripp, Sterling C. Johnson, John C. Morris, Marilyn S. Albert, R. Nick Bryan, Kristine Yaffe, Henry Völzke, Luigi Ferrucci, Tammie L.S. Benzinger, Ali Ezzati, Russell T. Shinohara, Yong Fan, Susan M. Resnick, Mohamad Habes, David Wolk, Haochang Shou, Konstantina Nikita, Christos Davatzikos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Importance: Brain aging elicits complex neuroanatomical changes influenced by multiple age-related pathologies. Understanding the heterogeneity of structural brain changes in aging may provide insights into preclinical stages of neurodegenerative diseases. Objective: To derive subgroups with common patterns of variation in participants without diagnosed cognitive impairment (WODCI) in a data-driven manner and relate them to genetics, biomedical measures, and cognitive decline trajectories. Design, Setting, and Participants: Data acquisition for this cohort study was performed from 1999 to 2020. Data consolidation and harmonization were conducted from July 2017 to July 2021. Age-specific subgroups of structural brain measures were modeled in 4 decade-long intervals spanning ages 45 to 85 years using a deep learning, semisupervised clustering method leveraging generative adversarial networks. Data were analyzed from July 2021 to February 2023 and were drawn from the Imaging-Based Coordinate System for Aging and Neurodegenerative Diseases (iSTAGING) international consortium. Individuals WODCI at baseline spanning ages 45 to 85 years were included, with greater than 50000 data time points. Exposures: Individuals WODCI at baseline scan. Main Outcomes and Measures: Three subgroups, consistent across decades, were identified within the WODCI population. Associations with genetics, cardiovascular risk factors (CVRFs), amyloid β (Aβ), and future cognitive decline were assessed. Results: In a sample of 27402 individuals (mean [SD] age, 63.0 [8.3] years; 15146 female [55%]) WODCI, 3 subgroups were identified in contrast with the reference group: a typical aging subgroup, A1, with a specific pattern of modest atrophy and white matter hyperintensity (WMH) load, and 2 accelerated aging subgroups, A2 and A3, with characteristics that were more distinct at age 65 years and older. A2 was associated with hypertension, WMH, and vascular disease-related genetic variants and was enriched for Aβ positivity (ages ≥65 years) and apolipoprotein E (APOE) ϵ4 carriers. A3 showed severe, widespread atrophy, moderate presence of CVRFs, and greater cognitive decline. Genetic variants associated with A1 were protective for WMH (rs7209235: mean [SD] B = -0.07 [0.01]; P value = 2.31 × 10-9) and Alzheimer disease (rs72932727: mean [SD] B = 0.1 [0.02]; P value = 6.49 × 10-9), whereas the converse was observed for A2 (rs7209235: mean [SD] B = 0.1 [0.01]; P value = 1.73 × 10-15and rs72932727: mean [SD] B = -0.09 [0.02]; P value = 4.05 × 10-7, respectively); variants in A3 were associated with regional atrophy (rs167684: mean [SD] B = 0.08 [0.01]; P value = 7.22 × 10-12) and white matter integrity measures (rs1636250: mean [SD] B = 0.06 [0.01]; P value = 4.90 × 10-7). Conclusions and Relevance: The 3 subgroups showed distinct associations with CVRFs, genetics, and subsequent cognitive decline. These subgroups likely reflect multiple underlying neuropathologic processes and affect susceptibility to Alzheimer disease, paving pathways toward patient stratification at early asymptomatic stages and promoting precision medicine in clinical trials and health care..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)456-467
Number of pages12
JournalJAMA Psychiatry
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2024
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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