Recent research suggests a central role for inflammatory mechanisms in cognitive decline that may occur prior to evidence of neurodegeneration. Limited information exists, however, regarding the relationship between low-grade inflammation and cognitive function in healthy older adults. This study examined the relation between inflammation, verbal memory consolidation, and medial temporal lobe volumes in a cohort of older community-dwelling subjects. Subjects included 141 functionally intact, community-dwelling older adults with detectable (n= 76) and undetectable (n= 65) levels of C-reactive protein. A verbal episodic memory measure was administered to all subjects, and measures of delayed recall and recognition memory were assessed. A semiautomated parcellation program was used to analyze structural MRI scans. On the episodic memory task, analysis of covariance revealed a significant CRP group by memory recall interaction, such that participants with detectable levels of CRP evidenced worse performance after a delay compared to those with undetectable levels of CRP. Individuals with detectable CRP also demonstrated lower performance on a measure of recognition memory. Imaging data demonstrated smaller left medial temporal lobe volumes in the detectable CRP group as compared with the undetectable CRP group. These findings underscore a potential role for inflammation in cognitive aging as a modifiable risk factor.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Behavioral Neuroscience
- C-reactive protein
- Temporal lobe