Contributions of amyloid beta and cerebral small vessel disease in clinical decline

Alzheimers Dement. 2024 Mar;20(3):1868-1880. doi: 10.1002/alz.13607. Epub 2023 Dec 25.


Introduction: We assessed whether co-morbid small vessel disease (SVD) has clinical predictive value in preclinical or prodromal Alzheimer's disease.

Methods: In 1090 non-demented participants (65.4 ± 10.7 years) SVD was assessed with magnetic resonance imaging and amyloid beta (Aβ) with lumbar puncture and/or positron emission tomography scan (mean follow-up for cognitive function 3.1 ± 2.4 years).

Results: Thirty-nine percent had neither Aβ nor SVD (A-V-), 21% had SVD only (A-V+), 23% Aβ only (A+V-), and 17% had both (A+V+). Pooled cohort linear mixed model analyses demonstrated that compared to A-V- (reference), A+V- had a faster rate of cognitive decline. Co-morbid SVD (A+V+) did not further increase rate of decline. Cox regression showed that dementia risk was modestly increased in A-V+ (hazard ratio [95% confidence interval: 1.8 [1.0-3.2]) and most strongly in A+ groups. Also, mortality risk was increased in A+ groups.

Discussion: In non-demented persons Aβ was predictive of cognitive decline, dementia, and mortality. SVD modestly predicts dementia in A-, but did not increase deleterious effects in A+.

Highlights: Amyloid beta (Aβ; A) was predictive for cognitive decline, dementia, and mortality. Small vessel disease (SVD) had no additional deleterious effects in A+. SVD modestly predicted dementia in A-. Aβ should be assessed even when magnetic resonance imaging indicates vascular cognitive impairment.

Keywords: amyloid beta; cognitive decline; dementia; mortality; small vessel disease.

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / pathology
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Cerebral Small Vessel Diseases* / complications
  • Cerebral Small Vessel Diseases* / diagnostic imaging
  • Cognition Disorders*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / diagnostic imaging
  • Dementia, Vascular*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides