Brain Glucose Metabolism, Cognition, and Cardiorespiratory Fitness Following Exercise Training in Adults at Risk for Alzheimer's Disease
Gaitán JM, Boots EA, Dougherty RJ, et al. "Brain Glucose Metabolism, Cognition, and Cardiorespiratory Fitness Following Exercise Training in Adults at Risk for Alzheimer's Disease". Brain Plasticity. 2019;5(1):83‐95. doi:10.3233/BPL-190093
Abstract: Aerobic exercise has been associated with reduced burden of brain and cognitive changes related to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, it is unknown whether exercise training in asymptomatic individuals harboring risk for AD improves outcomes associated with AD. We investigated the effect of 26 weeks of supervised aerobic treadmill exercise training on brain glucose metabolism and cognition among 23 late-middle-aged adults from a cohort enriched with familial and genetic risk of AD. They were randomized to Usual Physical Activity (PA) or Enhanced PA conditions. Usual PA received instruction about maintaining an active lifestyle. Enhanced PA completed a progressive exercise training program consisting of 3 sessions of treadmill walking per week for 26 weeks. By week seven, participants exercised at 70– 80% heart rate reserve for 50 minutes per session to achieve 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week in accordance with public health guidelines. Before and after the intervention, participants completed a graded treadmill test to assess VO2peak as a measure of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), wore an accelerometer to measure free-living PA, underwent 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography imaging to assess brain glucose metabolism, and a neuropsychological battery to assess episodic memory and executive function. VO2peak increased, sedentary behavior decreased, and moderate-to-vigorous PA increased significantly in the Enhanced PA group as compared to Usual PA. Glucose metabolism in the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) did not change significantly in Enhanced PA relative to Usual PA. However, change in PCC glucose metabolism correlated positively with change in VO2peak. Executive function, but not episodic memory, was significantly improved after Enhanced PA relative to Usual PA. Improvement in executive function correlated with increased VO2peak. Favorable CRF adaptation after 26 weeks of aerobic exercise training was associated with improvements in PCC glucose metabolism and executive function, important markers of AD.
Fitness, independent of physical activity is associated with cerebral blood flow in adults at risk for Alzheimer’s disease
Dougherty, R.J., Boots, E.A., Lindheimer, J.B. et al. "Fitness, independent of physical activity is associated with cerebral blood flow in adults at risk for Alzheimer’s disease." Brain Imaging and Behavior 14, 1154–1163 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11682-019-00068-w
Abstract: Patterns of decreased resting cerebral blood flow (CBF) within the inferior temporal gyri, angular gyri, and posterior cingulate are a feature of aging and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and have shown to be predictive of cognitive decline among older adults. Fitness and physical activity are both associated with many indices of brain health and may positively influence CBF, however, the majority of research to date has examined these measures in isolation, leaving the potential independent associations unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine the unique contributions of fitness and physical activity when predicting CBF in cognitively healthy adults at risk for AD. One hundred participants (63% female) from the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention underwent a maximal exercise test, physical activity monitoring, and a 3-D arterial spin labeling magnetic resonance imaging scan. For the entire sample, fitness was significantly associated with CBF while accounting for physical activity, age, gender, APOE ε4, family history of AD, education, and handedness (p = .026). Further, fitness explained significantly more variance than the combined effect of the covariates on CBF (R2 change = .059; p = .047). These results appear to be gender dependent, our data suggest fitness level, independent of physical activity, is associated with greater CBF in regions that are known to decline with age and AD for female (p = .011), but not male participants.
Okonkwo OC, Schultz SA, Oh JM, et al. "Physical activity attenuates age-related biomarker alterations in preclinical AD." Neurology. 2014;83(19):1753-1760. doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000000964
Abstract: Objective: To examine whether engagement in physical activity might favorably alter the age-dependent evolution of Alzheimer disease (AD)-related brain and cognitive changes in a cohort of at-risk, late-middle-aged adults. Methods: Three hundred seventeen enrollees in the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention underwent T1 MRI; a subset also underwent 11C-Pittsburgh compound B–PET (n = 186) and 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose–PET (n = 152) imaging. Participants' responses on a self-report measure of current physical activity were used to classify them as either physically active or physically inactive based on American Heart Association guidelines. They also completed a comprehensive neuropsychological battery. Covariate-adjusted regression analyses were used to test whether the adverse effect of age on imaging and cognitive biomarkers was modified by physical activity. Results: There were significant age × physical activity interactions for β-amyloid burden (p = 0.014), glucose metabolism (p = 0.015), and hippocampal volume (p = 0.025) such that, with advancing age, physically active individuals exhibited a lesser degree of biomarker alterations compared with the physically inactive. Similar age × physical activity interactions were also observed on cognitive domains of Immediate Memory (p = 0.042) and Visuospatial Ability (p = 0.016). In addition, the physically active group had higher scores on Speed and Flexibility (p = 0.002) compared with the inactive group. Conclusions: In a middle-aged, at-risk cohort, a physically active lifestyle is associated with an attenuation of the deleterious influence of age on key biomarkers of AD pathophysiology. However, because our observational, cross-sectional design cannot establish causality, randomized controlled trials/longitudinal studies will be necessary for determining whether midlife participation in structured physical exercise forestalls the development of AD and related disorders in later life.
Cardiorespiratory fitness attenuates age-associated aggregation of white matter hyperintensities in an at-risk cohort
Vesperman CJ, Pozorski V, Dougherty RJ, et al. "Cardiorespiratory fitness attenuates age-associated aggregation of white matter hyperintensities in an at-risk cohort." Alzheimers Research & Therapy. 2018;10(1):97. doi: 10.1186/s13195-018-0429-0
Abstract: Background: Age is the cardinal risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD), and white matter hyperintensities (WMH), which are more prevalent with increasing age, may contribute to AD. Higher cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) has been shown to be associated with cognitive health and decreased burden of AD-related brain alterations in older adults. Accordingly, the aim of this study was to determine whether CRF attenuates age-related accumulation of WMH in middle-aged adults at risk for AD. Methods: One hundred and seven cognitively unimpaired, late-middle-aged adults from the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention underwent 3 T magnetic resonance imaging and performed graded maximal treadmill exercise testing from which we calculated the oxygen uptake efficiency slope (OUES) as our measure of CRF. Total WMH were quantified using the Lesion Segmentation Tool and scaled to intracranial volume. Linear regression adjusted for APOE4 carriage, family history, body mass index, systolic blood pressure, and sex was used to examine relationships between age, WMH, and CRF. Results: As expected, there was a significant association between age and WMH (p < .001). Importantly, there was a significant interaction between age and OUES on WMH (p = .015). Simple main effects analyses revealed that the effect of age on WMH remained significant in the Low OUES group (p < .001) but not in the High OUES group (p = .540), indicating that higher CRF attenuates the deleterious age association with WMH. Conclusions: Higher CRF tempers the adverse effect of age on WMH. This suggests a potential pathway through which increased aerobic fitness facilitates healthy brain aging, especially among individuals at risk for AD.