DOI: 10.1002/alz.078247 ISSN: 1552-5260

Associations of mid‐life cardiovascular function with late‐life Alzheimer’s disease pathology burden in the Heart SCORE study

Sarah K. Royse, Anum Saeed, Alexandria C. Reese, Brian J. Lopresti, Beth E. Snitz, Victor L Villemagne, Neelesh K. Nadkarni, Steven E. Reis, Oscar L. Lopez, Ann D. Cohen
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Neurology (clinical)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Health Policy
  • Epidemiology



Cardiovascular (CV) disease is associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), but its relationship with AD pathology remains elusive. We examined whether mid‐life arterial stiffness, endothelial function, and blood pressure are associated with late‐life beta‐amyloid (Aß) and tau burden.


Participants in the Heart Strategies Concentrating on Risk (SCORE) study completed cardiovascular phenotyping between 2003‐2005 (midlife; 45‐59 years) and up to three brain PET sessions between 2018‐2022 (late‐life; >65 years). Mid‐life assessments included augmentation index (AI75; N = 134) as a measure of arterial stiffness, Framingham reactive hyperemia index (fRHI; N = 130) as a measure of endothelial function, and systolic‐blood pressure (SBP; N = 141); late‐life measures were global [11C]Pittsburgh Compound‐B (PiB) standardized uptake value ratio (SUVR) and regional (medial temporal, entorhinal, inferior temporal, amygdala) [18F]flortaucipir (FTP) SUVR as indices of Aß and tau deposition, respectively. In individual linear regression models, we tested associations of mid‐life AI75, RHI, and SBP with late‐life PiB and FTP SUVRs. We used mixed effects models to examine these relationships longitudinally. All models were adjusted for time between CV and PET measurements, baseline age, sex, racialization, apolipoprotein‐E4, BMI, and history of hypertension, high cholesterol, smoking, and diabetes.


In multivariable models, higher mid‐life SBP was associated with lower late‐life FTP SUVR in the medial temporal lobe (β = ‐0.20, p = 0.04) and inferior temporal gyrus (β = ‐0.23, p = 0.01; Table 1); higher mid‐life SBP was also negatively associated with FTP SUVR trajectories in these regions (medial temporal lobe: β = ‐0.0004, p = 0.02; inferior temporal gyrus: β = ‐0.001, p = 0.01; Table 2). We did not detect significant relationships of mid‐life AI75 or RHI with late‐life FTP SUVRs (p≥0.05) or between any mid‐life cardiovascular measures and late‐life PiB SUVR (p≥0.08).


In this dementia‐free, community‐based cohort, higher mid‐life SBP was associated with lower late‐life regional tau deposition and accumulation. Though counterintuitive, our findings are consistent with results of cross‐sectional studies, which suggest that CV risk factors may be followed by an initial brain arteriole response that is protective against tau accumulation through early years of late‐adulthood1,2. Future studies should interrogate the potential mechanisms and age‐modifying effects that may underlie the relationship between mid‐life CV risk factors and late‐life tau deposition.

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