Brain aging in black adults shows accelerated pattern starting in midlife
Black individuals showed an accelerated pattern of brain aging beginning in their 40s, a cross-sectional analysis of two community cohorts showed.
According to Adam Brickman, PhD, of Columbia University in New York and his colleagues.
Black participants had a similar extent of brain aging in both middle and late life, researchers reported in JAMA Neurology.
“We posit that racial and ethnic disparities in brain aging are due to lifetime cumulative exposure to structural and social forces that increase subsequent exposure to risk factors for brain pathology,” Brickman and co-authors wrote. authors.
Previous studies have identified poorer brain health in racial and ethnic minorities in later life, but did not compare brain health in midlife versus late life compared to white adults, they said. added.
The analysis assessed MRI markers of cerebrovascular disease and neurodegeneration in 970 participants of the Washington Heights–Inwood Columbia Aging Project (WHICAP) Elderly Cohort and 497 of their adult children who participated in the Offspring Study of Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Alzheimer’s Disease (Offspring) midlife cohort. Participants without a diagnosis of dementia at the time of the MRI scan were enrolled from 2011 in WHICAP and from 2017 in Offspring until January 2021.
The average age of WHICAP participants was approximately 75; about 35% were black, 40% were Latinx, and 25% were white. The average age of Offspring participants was about 55, and about 24% were black, 70% were Latina, and 6.4% were white. Approximately 65% of both cohorts were female. At the time of the MRI scan, participants reported a history of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and clinical stroke.
Results included WMH volume and cortical thickness. “Overall, comparable to other reports, Black-White disparities were larger than Latinx-White disparities on both measures, while Black-Latinx disparities were minimal,” Brickman and co-authors wrote.
WMH disparities occurred in both midlife (black-white B = 0.357P=0.046) and at end of life (Black-Latinx B=0.149, PPPP
Brain aging was greater at end of life compared to midlife for Latinx (cortical thickness B = 0.006, P<.001 volume wmh b="-0.010,">P=0.03) and white (cortical thickness B=0.005, P=0.001; Volume WMH B=-0.021P=0.07) attendees. However, this was not the case for black participants (cortical thickness B = 0.001, P=0.64; Volume WMH B = 0.003, P= 0.61), which showed equally strong associations between age and MRI measurements in midlife and late life.
“White matter hyperintensities and cortical thickness are well-known determinants or correlates of cognitive health, including in the current study, and the findings have clear implications for cognitive aging,” the group wrote. .
That the magnitude of racial and ethnic disparities in WMH volume was higher at midlife than at end of life may be due to differential survival across races and ethnicities, the researchers warned.
Limitations included the cross-sectional design of the study and its potentially limited generalizability due to the lower proportion of white participants in the middle-aged cohort compared to the older cohort.
“Future studies should incorporate the measurement of these forces across the lifespan to determine whether they mediate observed disparities in brain health, their functional consequences, and secular trends over time,” noted Brickman and colleagues. colleagues.
Future work should also include disease biomarkers like amyloid and tau to clarify contributors to disparities in brain aging and Alzheimer’s disease, they added.
This work was supported by the Washington Heights–Inwood Columbia Aging Project (WHICAP) and Offspring Study of Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Alzheimer’s Disease (Offspring) funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.
Brickman reported personal fees from Cognition Therapeutics and Cogstate. The co-authors reported relationships with the NIH and the Columbia Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Alzheimer’s Disease Disparities.