The effect of Alzheimer's disease risk factors on brain aging in normal Chineses: Cognitive aging and cognitive reserve

Neurosci Lett. 2022 Feb 6;771:136398. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2021.136398. Epub 2021 Dec 17.


Aging has been recognized as a major driving force of the Alzheimer's disease's (AD) progression, however, the relationship between brain aging and AD is still unclear. There is also a lack of studies investigating the influence of AD risk factors on brain aging in cognitively normal people. Here, the "Brain Age Gap Estimation" (BrainAGE) framework was applied to investigate the effects of AD risk factors on individual brain aging. Across a total of 165 cognitively normal elderly subjects, although no significant difference was observed in the BrainAGE scores among the three groups, AD risk dose (i.e., the number of AD risk factors) is tend to associated with an increased BrainAGE scores (high-risk > middle risk > low risk). Female exhibited more advanced brain aging (P = 0.004), and higher education years were associated with preserved brain aging (P < 0.001). APOE-ɛ4 (P = 0.846) and family history (FH) of dementia (P = 0.209) did not increase BrainAGE scores. When comparing 52 aMCI patients with 38 cognitively normal controls from ADNI dataset, aMCI patients showed significantly increased BrainAGE scores. BrainAGE scores were negatively correlated with CSF Aβ42 levels in the aMCI group (r = -0.275, P = 0.048). With an accuracy of 68.9%, BrainAGE outperformed APOE-ɛ4 and hippocampus gray matter volume (GMV) in predicting aMCI. In conclusion, AD is independently associated with structural changes in the brain that reflect advanced aging. Potentially, BrainAGE combined with APOE-ɛ4 and hippocampus GMV could be used as a pre-screening tool in early-stage AD.

Keywords: APOE-ɛ4; Alzheimer's disease; BrainAGE; Education; Gender.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Apolipoproteins E / genetics
  • China
  • Cognition*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / diagnostic imaging
  • Hippocampus / growth & development
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors


  • ApoE protein, human
  • Apolipoproteins E