Promoting healthy brain aging is of increasing concern to an aging population as the baby boom generation approaches age 65. Dietary management has received a great deal of interest as mounting evidence from observational studies suggests dietary factors may be associated with the risk of developing neurological diseases, including cerebrovascular diseases and cognitive decline, in the elderly. Many of the neurological diseases of aging are known to develop as a result of subclinical brain changes. These brain changes can now be visualized and quantified using MRI;therefore MRI markers of brain changes are worth being considered to better understand the association between diet and brain aging. Neuroimaging markers are extremely sensitive measurements of changes occurring in the aging brain, and can also help us understand better the associations of different aspects of diet with specific changes of brain dysfunction. Current literature on the associations between diet and neuroimaging markers in the elderly has been extremely sparse. In particular, dietary patterns and longitudinal change of neuroimaging marker have been rarely investigated. Our previous work shows that higher adherence to a Mediterranean-type diet was associated with lower prevalence of subclinical brain infarcts but not white matter hyperintensity, emphasizing the value of exploring dietary patterns and multiple imaging markers. The overall aim of this study is to examine how dietary factors are related with brain changes seen on MRI imaging. Specifically, the proposed study will examine the association between dietary factors (both individual nutrients and dietary patterns) and neuroimaging changes of the brain (including global and regional brain atrophy measured by volume and cortical thickness, white matter hyperintensity, subclinical brain infarcts) through a series of studies including: during the mentored phase, (1) a cross-sectional study of the relationship between baseline dietary factors and above-mentioned neuroimaging markers using data from the Washington Heights Inwood Columbia Aging Project (WHICAP) -II Imaging Study;and during the independent phase, (2) a longitudinal study of the association between baseline diet and change of these imaging markers in a subset of WHICAP-II Imaging Study participants who have repeated imaging evaluations, (3) a cross-sectional replication study based on data from an on-going WHICAP-2010 Imaging Study to examine the reproducibility of the study (1) findings, and (4) a cross-sectional exploratory study based on data from an on-going WHICAP-2010 Imaging Study to explore the relationship between diet and two additional MRI markers collected in WHICAP-2010, cerebral blood flow and brain connectivity. Findings from this study will contribute to our understanding of the role of dietary factors in imaging markers of brain aging.
Promoting healthy brain aging is of increasing concern to an aging population as the baby boom generation approaches age 65. This proposal aims to understand the relationship between dietary factors and imagining markers of brain aging. Information generated through this research effort is essential to fill research gaps and inform human risk assessment.