Total Brain and Hippocampal Volumes and Cognition in Older American Indians: The Strong Heart Study

Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. Apr-Jun 2017;31(2):94-100. doi: 10.1097/WAD.0000000000000203.


Background: Estimates of hippocampal volume by magnetic resonance imaging have clinical and cognitive correlations and can assist in early Alzheimer disease diagnosis. However, little is known about the relationship between global or regional brain volumes and cognitive test performance in American Indians.

Materials and methods: American Indian participants (N=698; median age, 72 y) recruited for the Cerebrovascular Disease and its Consequences in American Indians study, an ancillary study of the Strong Heart Study cohort, were enrolled. Linear regression models assessed the relationship between magnetic resonance imaging brain volumes (total brain and hippocampi) and cognitive measures of verbal learning and recall, processing speed, verbal fluency, and global cognition.

Results: After controlling for demographic and clinical factors, all volumetric measurements were positively associated with processing speed. Total brain volume was also positively associated with verbal learning, but not with verbal recall. Conversely, left hippocampal volume was associated with both verbal learning and recall. The relationship between hippocampal volume and recall performance was more pronounced among those with lower scores on a global cognitive measure. Controlling for APOE ε4 did not substantively affect the associations.

Conclusions: These results support further investigation into the relationship between structural Alzheimer disease biomarkers, cognition, genetics, and vascular risk factors in aging American Indians.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases
  • Cognition*
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Indians, North American*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data