Alzheimer's disease and head circumference

Patricio S. Espinosa, Richard J. Kryscio, Marta S. Mendiondo, Fred A. Schmitt, David R. Wekstein, William R. Markesbery, Charles D. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective: Larger brains may contain more neurons and synaptic connections, providing a greater reserve against cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Larger head circumference (HC) may therefore be associated with later detection and diagnosis of AD. We investigated HC in nondemented individuals and AD patients using cross-sectional and prospective analyses. Methods: The cross sectional analysis compared mean HC between 592 AD patients and 459 nondemented controls. Prospective analysis was based on the same initially normal controls who were followed longitudinally for conversion to dementia. Diagnosis of AD was made by neurologists using NINDS-ADRDA criteria. Results: When compared to AD patients, controls had a significantly larger mean HC by 0.58 cm in men and by 0.31 cm in women, but these differences were no longer significant after adjustment for age and years of education. HC varied inversely with age and directly with years of education but did not vary with presence/absence of dementia in first-degree relatives or with apolipoprotein-E (ApoE) genotype. In the prospective analysis, the hazard ratio for time to conversion to AD was not significant for HC when adjusted for age at entry, ApoE allele status, family history of dementia, gender, and years of education. ApoE allele status, first degree relative with dementia, and baseline age conferred an increased risk for conversion to AD, consistent with other studies. Conclusions: We observed a smaller HC in AD patients compared to nondemented individuals, but AD per se accounted for little of this difference. HC was not a statistically significant predictor for conversion to AD in our longitudinal group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-80
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Cerebral reserve
  • Head circumference
  • Risk factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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