Neuropathological lesions and their contribution to dementia and cognitive impairment in a heterogeneous clinical population

INTRODUCTION: Alzheimer disease (AD) and related dementias are characterized by damage caused by neuropathological lesions in the brain. These include AD lesions (plaques and tangles) and non-AD lesions such as vascular injury or Lewy bodies. We report here an assessment of lesion association to dementia in a large clinic-based population.
METHODS: We identified 5272 individuals with neuropathological data from the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center. Individual lesions, as well as a neuropathological composite score (NPCS) were tested for association with dementia, and both functional and neurocognitive impairment using regression models.
RESULTS: Most individuals exhibited mixed pathologies, especially AD lesions in combination with non-AD lesions. All lesion types were associated with one or more clinical outcomes; most even while controlling for AD pathology. The NPCS was also associated with clinical outcomes.
DISCUSSION: These data suggest mixed-type pathologies are extremely common in a clinic-based population and may contribute to dementia and cognitive impairment.