The Utility of the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center’s Database for the Rapid Assessment of Evolving Neuropathologic Conditions

The field of dementia research is rapidly evolving, especially with regards to our understanding of the diversity of neuropathologic changes that underlie cognitive decline. Definitions and criteria for known conditions are being periodically revised and refined, and new findings are being made about neuropathologic features associated with dementia status. The database maintained by the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center (NACC) offer researchers a robust, rapid, and statistically well-powered method to evaluate the implications of newly identified neuropathologic conditions with regards to comorbidities, demographic associations, cognitive status, neuropsychologic tests, radiographic findings, and genetics. NACC data derive from dozens of excellent US Alzheimer disease research centers, which collectively follow thousands of research volunteers longitudinally. Many of the research participants are autopsied using state-of-the-art methods. In this article, we describe the NACC database and give examples of its use in evaluating recently revised neuropathologic diagnoses, including primary age-related tauopathy (PART), limbic predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy (LATE), and the preclinical stage of Alzheimer disease neuropathologic change, based on the National Institute on Aging-Alzheimer’s Association consensus guidelines. The dementia research community is encouraged to make use of this readily available database as new neuropathologic changes are recognized and defined in this rapidly evolving field.