Progression from normal cognition to mild cognitive impairment in a diverse clinic-based and community-based elderly cohort

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43 Scopus citations


Introduction: Investigation of the conversion rates from normal cognition (NC) to mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is important, as effective early intervention could potentially prevent or substantially delay the onset of dementia. However, reported conversion rates differ across studies and recruitment source. Our study examined predictors of conversion from NC to MCI in a racially and ethnically diverse sample drawn both from community and clinic recruitment sources. Methods: Rates and predictors of conversion were assessed in an ongoing prospective longitudinal study at University of California, Davis, Alzheimer's Disease Center from 2000 to 2015. Participants (n = 254) were recruited through a clinic (5%) and community sample (95%). They were clinically confirmed as cognitively normal at baseline and followed up to seven years. Recruitment source, demographic factors (age, gender, race/ethnicity, year of education, APOE ε4 positive), cognitive measures (SENAS test scores), functional assessments (CDR sum of boxes), and neuroimaging measures (total brain volume, total hippocampal volume, white hyperintensity volume) were assessed as predictors of conversion from cognitively normal to mild cognitive impairment using proportional hazards models. Results: Of 254 participants, 62 (11 clinic, 51 community) progressed to MCI. The clinic-based sample showed an annual conversion rate of 30% (95% CI 17%-54%) per person-year, whereas the community-based sample showed a conversion rate of 5% (95% CI 3%-6%) per person-year. Risk factors for conversion include clinic-based recruitment, being older, lower executive function and worse functional assessment at baseline, and smaller total brain volume. Discussion: Older adults who sought out a clinical evaluation, even when they are found to have normal cognition, have increased risk of subsequent development of MCI. Results are consistent with other studies showing subjective cognitive complaints are a risk for future cognitive impairment, but extend such findings to show that those who seek evaluation for their complaints are at particularly high risk. Moreover, these individuals have subtle, but significant differences in functional and cognitive abilities that, in the presence of concerns and evidence of atrophy on by brain imaging, warrant continued clinical follow-up. These risk factors could also be used as stratification variables for dementia prevention clinical trial design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAlzheimer's and Dementia
StateAccepted/In press - 2016


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Cognitive complaints
  • Dementia
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Normal cognition
  • Progression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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