Brain-predicted age in Down syndrome is associated with beta amyloid deposition and cognitive decline.

06 Apr 2018

Individuals with Down syndrome (DS) are more likely to experience earlier onset of multiple facets of physiological aging. This includes brain atrophy, beta amyloid deposition, cognitive decline, and Alzheimer's disease-factors indicative of brain aging. Here, we employed a machine learning approach, using structural neuroimaging data to predict age (i.e., brain-predicted age) in people with DS (N = 46) and typically developing controls (N = 30). Chronological age was then subtracted from brain-predicted age to generate a brain-predicted age difference (brain-PAD) score. DS participants also underwent [11C]-PiB positron emission tomography (PET) scans to index the levels of cerebral beta amyloid deposition, and cognitive assessment. Mean brain-PAD in DS participants' was +2.49 years, significantly greater than controls (p < 0.001). The variability in brain-PAD was associated with the presence and the magnitude of PiB-binding and levels of cognitive performance. Our study indicates that DS is associated with premature structural brain aging, and that age-related alterations in brain structure are associated with individual differences in the rate of beta amyloid deposition and cognitive impairment.