Effect of common neuropathologies on progression of late life cognitive impairment

Lei Yu, Patricia A. Boyle, Sue Leurgans, Julie A. Schneider, Richard J. Kryscio, Robert S. Wilson, David A. Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Brain pathologies of Alzheimer's (AD), cerebrovascular, and Lewy body diseases are common in old age, but the relationship of these pathologies with progression from normal cognitive function to the various stages of cognitive impairment is unknown. In this study, we fit latent Markov models from longitudinal cognitive data to empirically derive 3 latent stages corresponding to no impairment, mild impairment, and moderate impairment; then, we examined the associations of common neuropathologies with the rates of transition among these stages. Cognitive and neuropathological data were available from 653 autopsied participants in 2 ongoing cohort studies of aging who were cognitively healthy at baseline (mean baseline age 79.1 years) and had longitudinal cognitive data. On average, participants in these analyses developed mild impairment 5 years after enrollment, progressed to moderate impairment after an additional 3.4 years, and stayed impaired for 2.8 years until death. AD and chronic macroscopic infarcts were associated with a higher risk of progression to mild impairment and subsequently to moderate impairment. By contrast, Lewy bodies were associated only with progression from mild to moderate impairment. The 5-year probability of progression to mild or moderate impairment was 20% for persons without any of these 3 pathologies, 38% for AD only, 51% for AD and macroscopic infarcts, and 56% for AD, infarcts, and Lewy bodies. Thus, the presence of AD pathology alone nearly doubles the risk of developing cognitive impairment in late life, and the presence of multiple pathologies further increases this risk over multiple years before death.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2225-2231
Number of pages7
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc..


  • Latent Markov model
  • Neuropathologies
  • Progression of cognitive impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Aging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of common neuropathologies on progression of late life cognitive impairment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this