Risk and protective factors for structural brain ageing in the eighth decade of life

Stuart J Ritchie, Elliot M Tucker-Drob, Simon Cox, David Alexander Dickie, Maria Valdes Hernandez, Janie Corley, Natalie Royle, Paul Redmond, Susana Muñoz Maniega, Alison Pattie, Benjamin Aribisala, Adele Taylor, Toni-Kim Clarke, Alan Gow, John Starr, Mark Bastin, Joanna Wardlaw, Ian Deary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Individuals differ markedly in brain structure, and in how this structure degenerates during ageing. In a large sample of human participants (baseline n = 731 at age 73 years; follow-up n = 488 at age 76 years), we estimated magnitudes of mean change and variability in changes in MRI measures of brain macrostructure (grey matter, white matter, and white matter hyperintensity volumes) and brain microstructure (fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity from diffusion tensor MRI). All indices showed significant average change with age, with considerable heterogeneity in those changes. We then tested eleven socioeconomic, physical, health, cognitive, allostatic (inflammatory and metabolic), and genetic variables for their value in predicting these differences in changes. Many of these variables were significantly correlated with baseline brain structure, but few could account for significant portions of the heterogeneity in subsequent brain change. Physical fitness was an exception, being correlated both with brain level and changes. The results suggest that only a subset of correlates of brain structure are also predictive of differences in brain ageing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Issue number8
Early online date19 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • ageing
  • longitudinal
  • structural MRI
  • genetic
  • lifestyle
  • prediction


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