Transactive response DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) pathology is common in old age and is strongly associated with cognitive decline and dementia above and beyond contributions from other neuropathologies. TDP-43 pathology in aging typically originates in the amygdala, a brain region also affected by other age-related neuropathologies such as Alzheimer's pathology. The purpose of this study was two-fold: to determine the independent effects of TDP-43 pathology on the volume, as well as shape, of the amygdala in a community cohort of older adults, and to determine the contribution of amygdala volume to the variance of the rate of cognitive decline after accounting for the contributions of neuropathologies and demographics. Cerebral hemispheres from 198 participants of the Rush Memory and Aging Project and the Religious Orders Study were imaged with MRI ex vivo and underwent neuropathologic examination. Measures of amygdala volume and shape were extracted for all participants. Regression models controlling for neuropathologies and demographics showed an independent negative association of TDP-43 with the volume of the amygdala. Shape analysis revealed a unique pattern of amygdala deformation associated with TDP-43 pathology. Finally, mixed-effects models showed that amygdala volume explained an additional portion of the variance of the rate of decline in global cognition, episodic memory, semantic memory, and perceptual speed, above and beyond what was explained by demographics and neuropathologies.
Keywords: Alzheimer's; Amygdala; Cognitive decline; Ex vivo; Hippocampal sclerosis; MRI; Pathology; Shape; TDP-43; Volume.
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