Empirically Defining Trajectories of Late-Life Cognitive and Functional Decline

Helen Hochstetler, Paula T. Trzepacz, Shufang Wang, Peng Yu, Michael Case, David B. Henley, Elisabeth Degenhardt, Jeannie Marie Leoutsakos, Constantine G. Lyketsos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is associated with variable cognitive and functional decline, and it is difficult to predict who will develop the disease and how they will progress. Objective: This exploratory study aimed to define latent classes from participants in the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) database who had similar growth patterns of both cognitive and functional change using Growth Mixture Modeling (GMM), identify characteristics associated with those trajectories, and develop a decision tree using clinical predictors to determine which trajectory, as determined by GMM, individuals will most likely follow. Methods: We used ADNI early mild cognitive impairment (EMCI), late MCI (LMCI), AD dementia, and healthy control (HC) participants with known amyloid-β status and follow-up assessments on the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale - Cognitive Subscale or the Functional Activities Questionnaire (FAQ) up to 24 months postbaseline. GMM defined trajectories. Classification and Regression Tree (CART) used certain baseline variables to predict likely trajectory path. Results: GMM identified three trajectory classes (C): C1 (n = 162, 13.6%) highest baseline impairment and steepest pattern of cognitive/functional decline; C3 (n = 819, 68.7%) lowest baseline impairment and minimal change on both; C2 (n = 211, 17.7%) intermediate pattern, worsening on both, but less steep than C1. C3 had fewer amyloid- or apolipoprotein-E ε4 (APOE4) positive and more healthy controls (HC) or EMCI cases. CART analysis identified two decision nodes using the FAQ to predict likely class with 82.3% estimated accuracy. Conclusions: Cognitive/functional change followed three trajectories with greater baseline impairment and amyloid and APOE4 positivity associated with greater progression. FAQ may predict trajectory class.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-282
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • ADNI
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • MCI
  • amyloid
  • cognition
  • disease progression
  • function
  • longitudinal studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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