Carotid atherosclerosis predicts cognitive impairment

How cardiovascular risk factors relate to mild cognitive impairment is a main focus area in Sigbjørn Olav Rogne‘s PhD thesis.


  1. Carotid intima media thickness and plaque are associated with reduced cognition many years later.
  2. Cholesterol levels are associated with the size of Alzheimer’s disease-related structures in the brain.


Thesis: Cognitive function and mild cognitive impairment in a general population: roles of cardiovascular and genetic risk factors and magnetic resonance volumetry. The Tromsø Study
Candidate: Sigbjørn Olav Rogne
Time: December 14, 2018 at 12:15
Place: UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Farmasibygget: Tabletten
Link to university website (in Norwegian)


(1) Homocysteine levels are increased in men and women with mild cognitive impairment. The exception is cognitively impaired women who have several biological relatives with probable late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The results might indicate that cardiovascular and other risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease could differ somewhat between those who develop the disease sporadically and those who have a familial predisposition.

103 subjects with mild cognitive impairment were analyzed in three groups according to family history of probable late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The groups were compared with 58 controls with normal cognition.

(2) Carotid atherosclerosis predicts lower score on several cognitive tests 13 years later. Higher intima media thickness, total plaque area and progression of plaque were all linked to the results on a digit symbol test, whereas plaque progression was also independently assosiated with the finger tapping test, and total plaque area with the immediate recall part of the 12-word test.

Albuminuria and smoking were also independent predictors of executive function and motor tempo. The study includes 1,577 adults who participated in both the population-based Tromsø 4 health survey in 1994 and Tromsø 6 in 2007.

(3) The latest study of the thesis indicates that fully automated MR volumetry can distinguish subjects with subjective memory complaints and mild cognitive impairment from controls. Moreover, total cholesterol levels were among the factors related to the volumes of cerebral structures that are central in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, higher total cholesterol was independently associated with larger volumes of the hippocampus, amygdala, and cerebrum and smaller volumes of the lateral ventricles.

The analyses include 115 persons with mild cognitive impairment, 25 with subjective memory complaints and 58 controls.


(1) Rogne, S., Vangberg, T., Eldevik, P., Wikran, G., Mathiesen, E. B., & Schirmer, H. (2013). Mild cognitive impairment, risk factors and magnetic resonance volumetry: role of probable Alzheimer’s disease in the familyDementia and geriatric cognitive disorders36(1-2), 87-98.

(2) Rogne, S. O., Solbu, M. D., Arntzen, K. A., Herder, M., Mathiesen, E. B., & Schirmer, H. (2013). Albuminuria and carotid atherosclerosis as predictors of cognitive function in a general populationEuropean neurology70(5-6), 340-348.

(3) Rogne, S., Vangberg, T., Eldevik, P., Wikran, G., Mathiesen, E. B., & Schirmer, H. (2016). Magnetic Resonance Volumetry: Prediction of Subjective Memory Complaints and Mild Cognitive Impairment, and Associations with Genetic and Cardiovascular Risk FactorsDementia and geriatric cognitive disorders extra6(3), 529-540.

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