Background Clinical and epidemiological studies of older persons have implicated clusterin in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathogenesis. In the context of identifying early biomarkers of risk, we examined associations of plasma clusterin and characteristics of AD in middle-aged individuals from the community. Materials and methods Subjects were 639 cognitively normal individuals (mean age 50 ± 3.5) from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Brain MRI sub-study. Clusterin was quantified using ELISA (mean 255± 31 ng/ml). Associations were assessed between clusterin and volumes of brain regions known to atrophy in early AD, including entorhinal cortex (ECV), hippocampus (HV), and medial temporal lobe (MTLV) volumes (cm3). Total brain volume (TBV) and volumes of structures affected in later AD were examined for comparison. Results In multivariable models, higher clusterin had a negative non-linear association with ECV (combined left and right hemispheres), and this association was influenced by the highest clusterin levels. Compared to mean clusterin, 1 and 2 standard deviation (SD) level increases in clusterin were associated with -2.1% (95% CI: -3.3,-0.9) and -7.3% (95% CI: -11.3,-3.3) lower ECV, respectively. Similar relationships were observed between clusterin and HV, although the relationship was stronger for left-side HV than the right-side. However, the association was not significant after adjusting for covariates. Negative non-linear associations between clusterin and MTLV were strongest for the left side: compared to mean clusterin, 1 and 2 SD level increases in clusterin were associated with -0.9% (95% CI: -1.9, 0.1) and -3.7% (95% CI: -7.1, -0.3) lower MTLV. There were no significant associations between clusterin and brain structures affected in later AD. Conclusions In middle-aged adults unselected for AD, plasma clusterin was associated with lower volume of the entorhinal cortex, an area that atrophies early in AD. Clusterin could be informative as part of a multi-component preclinical marker for AD.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study (CARDIA) is supported by contracts HHSN268201300025C, HHSN268201300026C, HHSN268201300027C, HHSN268201300028C, HHSN268201300029C, and HHSN268200900041C from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Aging (NIA), and an intra-agency agreement between NIA and NHLBI (AG0005). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
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