Beta-amyloid and Cortical Thickness Reveal Racial Disparities in Preclinical Alzheimer's Disease

Academic Article


  • African Americans are two to four times more likely to develop dementia as Non-Hispanic Whites. This increased risk among African Americans represents a critical health disparity that affects nearly 43 million Americans. The present study tested the hypothesis that older African Americans with elevated beta-amyloid would show greater neurodegeneration (smaller hippocampal volumes and decreased cortical thickness) than older Non-Hispanic Whites with elevated beta-amyloid. Data from the Harvard Aging Brain Study (HABS) were used to form a group of older African Americans and two matched groups of Non-Hispanic White adults. Amyloid-positive African Americans had decreased cortical thickness in most of the Alzheimer's disease (AD) signature regions compared with amyloid-positive Non-Hispanic Whites. This factor was negatively correlated with age and white matter hypointensities. Using support vector regression, we also found some evidence that African Americans have an older “brain age” than Non-Hispanic Whites. These findings suggest that African Americans might be more susceptible to factors causing neurodegeneration, which then might accelerate the rate of a diagnosis of AD.
  • Authors

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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • McDonough IM
  • Start Page

  • 659
  • End Page

  • 667
  • Volume

  • 16