Neuropathological and transcriptomic characteristics of the aged brain

Elife. 2017 Nov 9:6:e31126. doi: 10.7554/eLife.31126.


As more people live longer, age-related neurodegenerative diseases are an increasingly important societal health issue. Treatments targeting specific pathologies such as amyloid beta in Alzheimer's disease (AD) have not led to effective treatments, and there is increasing evidence of a disconnect between traditional pathology and cognitive abilities with advancing age, indicative of individual variation in resilience to pathology. Here, we generated a comprehensive neuropathological, molecular, and transcriptomic characterization of hippocampus and two regions cortex in 107 aged donors (median = 90) from the Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study as a freely-available resource ( We confirm established associations between AD pathology and dementia, albeit with increased, presumably aging-related variability, and identify sets of co-expressed genes correlated with pathological tau and inflammation markers. Finally, we demonstrate a relationship between dementia and RNA quality, and find common gene signatures, highlighting the importance of properly controlling for RNA quality when studying dementia.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; aging; dementia; gene expression; human; neuroscience.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / pathology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Dementia / pathology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Hippocampus / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Male