Relationships between cardiorespiratory fitness, hippocampal volume, and episodic memory in a population at risk for Alzheimer's disease

Dougherty RJ, Schultz SA, Boots EA, Ellingson LD, Meyer JD, Van Riper S, Stegner AJ, Edwards DF, Oh JM, Einerson J, Korcarz CE, Koscik RL, Dowling MN, Gallagher CL, Carlsson CM, Rowley HA, Bendlin BB, Asthana S, Hermann BP, Sager MA, Stein JH, Sterling CJ, Okonkwo OC, Cook DB

Brain and Behavior. 2017 Feb 17;7(3):e00625. eCollection 2017.


Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) has been shown to be related to brain health in older adults. In individuals at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD), CRF may be a modifiable risk factor that could attenuate anticipated declines in brain volume and episodic memory. The objective of this study was to determine the association between CRF and both hippocampal volume and episodic memory in a cohort of cognitively healthy older adults with familial and/or genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Eighty-six enrollees from the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention participated in this study. Participants performed a graded maximal exercise test, underwent a T-1 anatomical magnetic resonance imaging scan, and completed the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (RAVLT). There were no significant relationships between CRF and HV or RAVLT memory scores for the entire sample. When the sample was explored on the basis of gender, CRF was significantly associated with hippocampal volume for women. For men, significant positive associations were observed between CRF and RAVLT memory scores. These results suggest that CRF may be protective against both hippocampal volume and episodic memory decline in older adults at risk for AD, but that the relationships may be gender-specific.


Contributing Lab Members