Importance: Previous research has suggested an association of kidney function with risk of Alzheimer disease (AD) or other dementias and dementia-related blood biomarkers, but a distinct association remains unclear.
Objective: To evaluate the association of kidney function with risk of diagnosis of incident AD or dementia within 17 years and with the blood biomarkers neurofilament light (NfL), phosphorylated tau181 (p-tau181), and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP).
Design, setting, and participants: In this prospective, population-based cohort study and nested case-control study, 9940 participants in Germany were enrolled between 2000 and 2002 by their general practitioners and followed up for up to 17 years. Participants were included if information on dementia status and creatinine/cystatin C measurements were available. A subsample of participants additionally had measurements of NfL, p-tau181, and GFAP obtained from blood samples. Statistical analysis was performed from January 3 to November 25, 2022.
Exposures: Impaired kidney function, based on estimated glomerular filtration rate less than 60 mL/min/1.73 m2 according to the 2021 Chronic Kidney Disease Epidemiology Collaboration creatinine-cystatin C equation.
Main outcomes and measures: All-cause dementia, AD, and vascular dementia diagnosis, as well as log-transformed levels of NfL, p-tau181, and GFAP in blood.
Results: Of 6256 participants (3402 women [54.4%]; mean [SD] age at baseline, 61.7 [6.6] years), 510 received an all-cause dementia diagnosis within 17 years of baseline. The dementia-related blood biomarker nested case-control sample included 766 participants. After adjusting for age and sex, impaired kidney function at baseline was not associated with a higher risk of all-cause dementia (hazard ratio [HR], 0.95; 95% CI, 0.69-1.29), AD (HR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.55-1.63), or vascular dementia diagnosis (HR, 1.06; 95% CI, 0.65-1.70) within 17 years. In the cross-sectional analysis, after adjusting for age and sex, impaired kidney function was significantly associated with NfL and p-tau181 levels in blood (NfL: β = 0.47 and P < .001; p-tau181: β = 0.21 and P = .003). After adjusting for age and sex, significant associations with GFAP levels were evident only among men (men: β = 0.31 and P = .006; women: β = -0.12 and P = .11).
Conclusions and relevance: In this population-based study of community-dwelling adults, reduced kidney function was associated with increased levels of dementia-related blood biomarkers but not increased dementia risk. Kidney function might influence the accuracy of dementia-related blood biomarkers and should be considered in clinical translation.