Association of allostatic load with brain structure and cognitive ability in later life

Tom Booth, Natalie A. Royle, Janie Corley, Alan J. Gow, Maria del C Valdés Hernández, Susana Muñoz Maniega, Stuart J. Ritchie, Mark E. Bastin, John M. Starr, Joanna M. Wardlaw, Ian J. Deary

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    Abstract

    Allostatic load (AL) has been proposed as a general framework for understanding the cumulative effects of life stress on individuals. Despite growing interest in AL, limited research has been conducted on aging samples. We consider the association of AL (operationalized by a range of inflammatory, cardiovascular, and metabolic measures) with a range of brain volume measurements and cognitive ability in a large cohort sample of older adults (n = 658, mean age = 72.5 years, standard deviation = 0.7) using structural equation modeling. AL was significantly inversely associated with total brain volume (range of standardized β = -0.16 to -0.20) and white-matter volume (-0.35 to -0.36) and positively with hippocampal volume (0.10-0.15) but not gray-matter volume (0.04). AL was also significantly inversely associated with general cognitive ability (range β = -0.13 to -0.20), processing speed (-0.20 to -0.22), and knowledge (-0.18 to -0.20) but not memory or nonverbal reasoning. The associations of AL with cognitive abilities were not mediated by these brain volume measures. AL did not predict cognitive change from age 11 to approximately age 73. The findings suggest a link between AL and later life brain health and cognitive functioning.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1390-1399
    Number of pages10
    JournalNeurobiology of Aging
    Volume36
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015

    Keywords

    • Allostatic load
    • Cognitive ability
    • Gray-matter volume
    • Hippocampal volume
    • Structural equation modeling
    • White-matter volume

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  • Cite this

    Booth, T., Royle, N. A., Corley, J., Gow, A. J., Valdés Hernández, M. D. C., Muñoz Maniega, S., Ritchie, S. J., Bastin, M. E., Starr, J. M., Wardlaw, J. M., & Deary, I. J. (2015). Association of allostatic load with brain structure and cognitive ability in later life. Neurobiology of Aging, 36(3), 1390-1399. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2014.12.020