Hippocampal Volume and Episodic Associative Memory Identify Memory Risk in Subjective Cognitive Decline Individuals in the CIMA-Q Cohort, Regardless of Cognitive Reserve Level and APOE4 Status.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


J Alzheimers Dis, Volume 94, Issue 3, p.1047-1056 (2023)


Aged, Alzheimer Disease, Apolipoprotein E4, Cognition, Cognitive Dysfunction, Cognitive Reserve, Hippocampus, Humans, Neuropsychological Tests


<p><b>BACKGROUND: </b>Subjective cognitive decline (SCD) was proposed to identify older adults who complain about their memory but perform within a normal range on standard neuropsychological tests. Persons with SCD are at increased risk of dementia meaning that some SCD individuals experience subthreshold memory decline due to an underlying progression of Alzheimer's disease (AD).</p><p><b>OBJECTIVE: </b>Our main goal was to determine whether hippocampal volume and APOE4, which represent typical AD markers, predict inter-individual differences in memory performance among SCD individuals and can be used to identify a meaningful clinical subgroup.</p><p><b>METHODS: </b>Neuropsychological assessment, structural MRI, and genetic testing for APOE4 were administered to one hundred and twenty-five older adults over the age of 65 from the CIMAQ cohort: 66 SCD, 29 individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and 30 cognitively intact controls (CTRLS). Multiple regression models were first used to identify which factor (hippocampal volume, APOE4 allele, or cognitive reserve) best predicted inter-individual differences in a Face-name association memory task within the SCD group.</p><p><b>RESULTS: </b>Hippocampal volume was found to be the only and best predictor of memory performance. We then compared the demographic, clinical and cognitive characteristics of two SCD subgroups, one with small hippocampal volume (SCD/SH) and another with normal hippocampal volume (SCD/NH), with MCI and CTRLS. SCD/SH were comparable to MCI on neuropsychological tasks evaluating memory (i.e., test of delayed word recall), whereas SCD/NH were comparable to CTRLS.</p><p><b>CONCLUSION: </b>Thus, using hippocampal volume allows identification of an SCD subgroup with a cognitive profile consistent with a higher risk of conversion to AD.</p>

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