Cutter A Lindbergh, Kaitlin B Casaletto, Adam M Staffaroni, Renaud La Joie, Leonardo Iaccarino, Lauren Edwards, Elena Tsoy, Fanny Elahi, Samantha M Walters, Devyn Cotter, Michelle You, Alexandra C Apple, Breton Asken, John Neuhaus, Jessica E Rexach, Kevin J Wojta, Gil Rabinovici, Joel H Kramer, Hillblom Aging Network
Neuropsychology . 2020 Nov;34(8):835-850. doi: 10.1037/neu0000696. Epub 2020 Oct 8.
Publication year: 2020

Objective: We aimed to test the hypothesis that elevated neocortical β-amyloid (Aβ), a hallmark feature of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), predicts sex-specific cognitive trajectories in clinically normal older adults, with women showing greater risk of decline than men. Method: Florbetapir Aβ positron emission tomography (PET) was acquired in 149 clinically normal older adults (52% female, Mage = 74). Participants underwent cognitive testing at baseline and during annual follow-up visits over a timespan of up to 5.14 years. Mixed-effects regression models evaluated whether relations between baseline neocortical Standardized Uptake Value Ratio (SUVR) and composite scores of episodic memory, executive functioning, and processing speed were moderated by sex (male/female) and apolipoprotein E (APOE) status (ε4 carrier/noncarrier). Results: Higher baseline SUVR was associated with longitudinal decline in episodic memory in women (b = -1.32, p < .001) but not men (b = -0.30, p = .28). Female APOE ε4 carriers with elevated SUVR showed particularly precipitous declines in episodic memory (b = -4.33, p < .001) whereas other cognitive domains were spared. SUVR did not predict changes in executive functioning or processing speed, regardless of sex (ps >.63), though there was a main effect of SUVR on processing speed (b = 2.50, p = .003). Conclusions: Clinically normal women with elevated Aβ are more vulnerable to episodic memory decline than men. Understanding sex-related differences in AD, particularly in preclinical stages, is crucial for guiding precision medicine approaches to early detection and intervention. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).