To be diagnosed with MCI in the study, individuals were required to meet three criteria: a self-reported awareness of having problems with memory or everyday functioning; deficits detected on a battery of cognitive tests; and no evidence of dementia. They were categorized into those with memory problems (amnestic MCI) and those with normal memory (non-amnestic MCI).
Of 4,198 persons found to be eligible for the study, almost 10% were diagnosed with MCI. Of these, 163 had amnestic MCI and 254 had non-amnestic MCI.
The risk of dementia was especially high for people with amnestic MCI. Similar results were observed regarding the risk for Alzheimer's disease. Those with MCI also faced a somewhat higher risk of death.
The research team investigated possible determinants of MCI, considering factors such as age, APOE-ɛ status, waist circumference, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, total and HDL-cholesterol levels, smoking, and stroke. Only older age, being an APOE-ɛ4 carrier, low total cholesterol levels, and stroke at baseline were associated with developing MCI. Having the APOE-ɛ4 genotype and smoking were related only to amnestic MCI.
When the investigators analysed MRI studies of the brain, they found that participants with MCI, particularly those with non-amnestic MCI, had larger white matter lesion volumes and worse microstructural integrity of normal-appearing white matter compared to controls. They were also three-times more likely than controls to have lacunes (3 to 15 mm cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)-filled cavities in the basal ganglia or white matter, frequently observed when imaging older people). MCI was not associated with total brain volume, hippocampal volume, or cerebral microbleeds.
"Our results suggest that accumulat
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