Brain Aging in Midlife: The Beaver Dam Offspring Study

Carla R. Schubert, Mary E. Fischer, A. Alex Pinto, Yanjun Chen, Barbara E.K. Klein, Ronald Klein, Michael Y. Tsai, Ted S. Tweed, Karen J. Cruickshanks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Middle age has been identified as a critical time period for health later in life. Identifying factors associated with worse brain function in middle-aged adults may help identify ways to preserve brain function with aging. Our objective was to evaluate factors associated with a novel measure of brain aging in middle-aged and older adults. DESIGN: Longitudinal cohort study. SETTING: Beaver Dam Offspring Study (BOSS) baseline (2005-2008), 5-year (2010-2013), and 10-year examinations (2015-2017). PARTICIPANTS: A total of 2285 adults, 22 to 84 years of age, with complete sensorineural and neurocognitive data at the 5-year examination. MEASUREMENTS: Principal component analysis (PCA) was performed combining 5-year sensorineural (hearing, vision, olfaction) and cognitive (Trail Making Test A and B, Digit Symbol Substitution Test, Verbal Fluency Test, Auditory Verbal Learning Test) test data. Participants with a standardized PCA score less than −1 were classified as having brain aging. Incident brain aging was defined as a PCA score less than −1 at 10 years among participants who had a PCA score of −1 or higher at 5 years. Logistic regression and Poisson models were used to estimate associations between baseline factors and prevalent or incident brain aging, respectively. RESULTS: Older age, being male, current smoking, larger waist circumference, not consuming alcohol, cardiovascular disease, and interleukin-6 were associated with greater odds of prevalent brain aging, whereas more education and exercise were associated with decreased odds. In addition to age and sex, less than a college education, higher levels of soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1, diabetes, depressive symptoms, and history of head injury were associated with an increased 5-year risk of incident brain aging. CONCLUSION: In the current study, vascular and inflammatory factors were associated with a new brain aging marker in middle-aged and older adults. Many of these factors are modifiable, highlighting the importance of addressing health and lifestyle factors in midlife to potentially preserve function for better brain health later in life. J Am Geriatr Soc 67:1610–1616, 2019.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1610-1616
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2019


  • brain aging
  • cardiovascular
  • hearing
  • inflammation
  • olfactory

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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