Oxidative stress and memory decline in adults with Down syndrome: longitudinal study

J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;31(2):277-83. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2012-120073.


By the age of 40, virtually all patients with Down syndrome (DS) have neuropathological changes characteristic of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The aim of our study was to investigate whether the levels of superoxide dismutase enzymes (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), or their ratio could predict cognitive decline in people with DS over a 4-year period. Thirty-two adults with DS participated in a longitudinal study with SOD and GPx assays at baseline. Informants rated their functional ability and memory function at baseline and at 4 years follow-up. The more able adults with DS also completed assessments of language skills and memory, at two different time points 4 years apart. Twenty-six individuals with DS completed assessments of memory (Modified Memory Object Task, MOMT), adaptive behavior (ABAS), and receptive vocabulary (British Picture vocabulary, BPVS) at both time-points. SOD positively correlated with change on the MOMT score (r = 0.578, p = 0.015). There were no significant correlations between GPx level or SOD/GPx ratio and temporal changes in ABAS, BPVS, or MOMT scores. Our results suggest that SOD predicts memory decline over time and that these antioxidant enzymes could be a potential target for prevention of memory deterioration in adults with DS. Further research is required to test whether supplements which improve SOD function can also prevent cognitive decline. These findings may also have implications for prevention of cognitive decline in other groups which are at high risk of developing dementia, such as adults with familial AD or mild cognitive impairment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Down Syndrome / enzymology*
  • Down Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Down Syndrome / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / blood*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / enzymology*
  • Memory Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Memory Disorders / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Superoxide Dismutase / blood*
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1
  • Young Adult


  • SOD1 protein, human
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1