Relationship between mean corpuscular volume and cognitive performance in older adults

Alyssa A. Gamaldo, Luigi Ferrucci, Joseph Rifkind, Dan L. Longo, Alan B. Zonderman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objectives: To examine the relationship between erythrocyte mean corpuscular volume (MCV) and cognitive performance over time. Design: Longitudinal. Setting: Sample from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA). Participants: Eight hundred twenty-seven participants from the BLSA (mean age 67, range 50-96). Measurements: Mean corpuscular volume and several other blood indices were measured, including hemoglobin, iron, ferritin, vitamin B12, folate, white blood cell count, albumin, and erythrocyte sedimentation rate. Cognitive performance was examined using neuropsychological measures of visual memory, verbal memory, language, attention, executive function, and global mental status. Results: High MCV levels were significantly associated with lower global mental status even after adjusting for potential confounders. High MCV levels were also significantly associated with high rates of decline on tasks of global mental status, long delay memory, and attention, even after adjusting for potential confounders. Conclusion: The findings confirm a previous observation that larger erythrocytes in older adults are associated with poorer cognitive function. Anemia and inflammation do not appear to explain the relationship between MCV and cognition. Further research is needed to clarify the mechanisms behind this association.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-89
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • cognition
  • mean corpuscular volume
  • older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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