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Publications (35)

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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Introduction: Physical activity (PA) is associated with brain health in older adults. However, it is unknown whether the current physical activity recommendations (PAR) impart substantive benefit. The objective of this study was to compare temporal lobe volumes between older adults who met PAR and those who did not. Methods: Ninety-one enrollees from the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention wore an accelerometer for seven consecutive days to quantify their PA behaviors and underwent a T-1 anatomic magnetic resonance imaging scan. Participants were categorized as either having met PAR or not based on the US Department of Health and Human Services recommendations of 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week. Results: Participants who met PAR possessed significantly greater inferior (η(2) P = .050) and anterior (η(2) P = .055) temporal lobe volumes compared with those who did not (P < .05). Discussion: Individuals at-risk for AD experience accelerated rates of brain atrophy. These results suggest that regular engagement in PA at or above PAR could attenuate this decline.
    Full-text Article · Apr 2016
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder. Early PD may present a diagnostic challenge with broad differential diagnoses that are not associated with nigral degeneration or striatal dopamine deficiency. Therefore, the early clinical diagnosis alone may not be accurate and this reinforces the importance of functional imaging targeting the pathophysiology of the disease process. (18)F-DOPA L-6-[(18)F] fluoro-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalnine ((18)F-DOPA) is a positron emission tomography (PET) agent that measures the uptake of dopamine precursors for assessment of presynaptic dopaminergic integrity and has been shown to accurately reflect the monoaminergic disturbances in PD. In this study, we aim to illustrate our local experience to determine the accuracy of (18)F-DOPA PET for diagnosis of PD. We studied a total of 27 patients. A retrospective analysis was carried out for all patients that underwent (18)F-DOPA PET brain scan for motor symptoms suspicious for PD between 2001-2008. Both qualitative and semi-quantitative analyses of the scans were performed. The patient's medical records were then assessed for length of follow-up, response to levodopa, clinical course of illness, and laterality of symptoms at time of (18)F-DOPA PET. The eventual diagnosis by the referring neurologist, movement disorder specialist, was used as the reference standard for further analysis. Of the 28 scans, we found that one was a false negative, 20 were true positives, and 7 were true negatives. The resultant values are Sensitivity 95.4% (95% CI: 100%-75.3%), Specificity 100% (95% CI: 100%-59.0%), PPV 100% (95% CI 100%-80.7%), and NPV 87.5% (95% CI: 99.5%-50.5%).
    Full-text Article · Jan 2016 · American Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Introduction Biomarkers are urgently needed for the critical yet understudied preclinical stage of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Methods Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) collection, [C-11]Pittsburgh compound B (PiB) amyloid imaging, and magnetic resonance imaging were acquired in 104 cognitively healthy adults enriched with risk for sporadic AD. Image-derived cerebral β-amyloid (Aβ) burden, measured concurrently and longitudinally, was regressed on CSF measures of Aβ, neural injury, and inflammation, as well as ratios with Aβ42. Linear mixed-effects regression was used to model the effect of the CSF measures that predicted longitudinal brain amyloid accumulation on longitudinal cognitive decline, measured by memory test scores. Results At baseline, Aβ42/Aβ40 and all CSF ratios to Aβ42 were associated with PiB binding in AD-vulnerable regions. Longitudinally, Aβ42/Aβ40 and ratios of total tau (t-tau), phosphorylated-tau (p-tau), neurofilament light protein, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 to Aβ42 were associated with increased Aβ deposition over 2 years, predominantly in lateral parietal and temporal cortex. However, these CSF ratios were not significantly associated with cognitive decline, and the effect seems to be largely driven by Aβ42 in the denominator. Discussion These results corroborate previous findings that t-tau/Aβ42 and p-tau/Aβ42 are the strongest candidate biomarkers during the preclinical time frame. They support a framework in which neural injury and amyloid deposition are likely occurring simultaneously. It may be that neurodegenerative processes influence progressive amyloid accumulation, even in the preclinical time frame. CSF biomarkers for nonspecific axonal injury and inflammation may provide more information at more advanced stages of the preclinical time course.
    Full-text Article · Dec 2015
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    Full-text Dataset · Dec 2015
  • Stephanie A Schultz · Elizabeth A Boots · Rodrigo P Almeida · [...] · Ozioma C Okonkwo
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to examine cross-sectionally whether higher cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) might favorably modify amyloid-β (Aβ)-related decrements in cognition in a cohort of late-middle-aged adults at risk for Alzheimer's disease (AD). Sixty-nine enrollees in the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention participated in this study. They completed a comprehensive neuropsychological exam, underwent 11C Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB)-PET imaging, and performed a graded treadmill exercise test to volitional exhaustion. Peak oxygen consumption (VO2peak) during the exercise test was used as the index of CRF. Forty-five participants also underwent lumbar puncture for collection of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples, from which Aβ42 was immunoassayed. Covariate-adjusted regression analyses were used to test whether the association between Aβ and cognition was modified by CRF. There were significant VO2peak*PiB-PET interactions for Immediate Memory (p=.041) and Verbal Learning & Memory (p=.025). There were also significant VO2peak*CSF Aβ42 interactions for Immediate Memory (p<.001) and Verbal Learning & Memory (p<.001). Specifically, in the context of high Aβ burden, that is, increased PiB-PET binding or reduced CSF Aβ42, individuals with higher CRF exhibited significantly better cognition compared with individuals with lower CRF. In a late-middle-aged, at-risk cohort, higher CRF is associated with a diminution of Aβ-related effects on cognition. These findings suggest that exercise might play an important role in the prevention of AD. (JINS, 2015, 21, 841-850).
    Article · Nov 2015 · Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society
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    Elizabeth A Boots · Stephanie A Schultz · Rodrigo P Almeida · [...] · Ozioma C Okonkwo
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Higher occupational attainment has previously been associated with increased Alzheimer's disease (AD) neuropathology when individuals are matched for cognitive function, indicating occupation could provide cognitive reserve. We examined whether occupational complexity (OCC) associates with decreased hippocampal volume and increased whole-brain atrophy given comparable cognitive function in middle-aged adults at risk for AD. Participants (n = 323) underwent structural MRI, cognitive evaluation, and work history assessment. Three complexity ratings (work with data, people, and things) were obtained, averaged across up to 3 reported jobs, weighted by years per job, and summed to create a composite OCC rating. Greater OCC was associated with decreased hippocampal volume and increased whole-brain atrophy when matched for cognitive function; results remained substantively unchanged after adjusting for several demographic, AD risk, vascular, mental health, and socioeconomic characteristics. These findings suggest that, in people at risk for AD, OCC may confer resilience to the adverse effects of neuropathology on cognition. © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.
    Full-text Article · Jul 2015 · Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology
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  • Article · Jul 2015
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Subjective memory complaints (SMCs) represent an individual's perception of subtle changes in memory in the absence of objective impairment in memory. However, it is not fully known whether persons with SMCs harbor brain alterations related to Alzheimer's disease (AD) or whether they indeed demonstrate poorer cognitive performance. Participants were 261 middle-aged adults (mean age=54.30 years) enrolled in the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention, a registry of cognitively normal adults at risk for AD. They answered a question pertaining to subjective memory, completed a comprehensive neuropsychological exam, and subsequently underwent a volumetric MRI scan. Cortical thickness measurements were derived from 10 a priori regions of interest involved in AD. Analyses of covariance were conducted to investigate group differences in cortical thickness and neuropsychological measures. Compared with individuals without SMCs, individuals with SMCs had significant cortical thinning in the entorhinal, fusiform, posterior cingulate, and inferior parietal cortices, as well as significantly reduced amygdala volume. Similarly, those with SMCs had significantly lower test scores on measures of Immediate Memory, Verbal Learning & Memory, and Verbal Ability. Additional adjustment for depressive symptoms (which differed between the groups) attenuated only the findings for the entorhinal cortex (p=.061) and Verbal Ability (p=.076). At-risk, cognitively healthy individuals with SMCs exhibit cortical thinning in brain regions affected by AD as well as poorer performance on objective memory tests. These findings suggest that, in some individuals, SMCs might represent the earliest stages of AD.
    Article · Mar 2015
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Some cognitively healthy individuals develop brain amyloid accumulation, suggestive of incipient Alzheimer's disease (AD), but the effect of amyloid on other potentially informative imaging modalities, such as Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), in characterizing brain changes in preclinical AD requires further exploration. In this study, a sample (N = 139, mean age 60.6, range 46 to 71) from the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention (WRAP), a cohort enriched for AD risk factors, was recruited for a multimodal imaging investigation that included DTI and [C-11]Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB) positron emission tomography (PET). Participants were grouped as amyloid positive (Aβ+), amyloid indeterminate (Aβi), or amyloid negative (Aβ-) based on the amount and pattern of amyloid deposition. Regional voxel-wise analyses of four DTI metrics, fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), axial diffusivity (Da), and radial diffusivity (Dr), were performed based on amyloid grouping. Three regions of interest (ROIs), the cingulum adjacent to the corpus callosum, hippocampal cingulum, and lateral fornix, were selected based on their involvement in the early stages of AD. Voxel-wise analysis revealed higher FA among Aβ+ compared to Aβ- in all three ROIs and in Aβi compared to Aβ- in the cingulum adjacent to the corpus callosum. Follow-up exploratory whole-brain analyses were consistent with the ROI findings, revealing multiple regions where higher FA was associated with greater amyloid. Lower fronto-lateral gray matter MD was associated with higher amyloid burden. Further investigation showed a negative correlation between MD and PiB signal, suggesting that Aβ accumulation impairs diffusion. Interestingly, these findings in a largely presymptomatic sample are in contradistinction to relationships reported in the literature in symptomatic disease stages of Mild Cognitive Impairment and AD, which usually show higher MD and lower FA. Together with analyses showing that cognitive function in these participants is not associated with any of the four DTI metrics, the present results suggest an early relationship between PiB and DTI, which may be a meaningful indicator of the initiating or compensatory mechanisms of AD prior to cognitive decline.
    Full-text Article · Dec 2014 · NeuroImage: Clinical
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    Catherine L Gallagher · Brian Bell · Matthew Palotti · [...] · James E Holden
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Subtle cognitive and behavioral changes are common in early Parkinson's disease. The cause of these symptoms is probably multifactorial but may in part be related to extra-striatal dopamine levels. 6-[(18) F]-Fluoro-L-dopa (FDOPA) positron emission tomography has been widely used to quantify dopamine metabolism in the brain; the most frequently measured kinetic parameter is the tissue uptake rate constant, Ki. However, estimates of dopamine turnover, which also account for the small rate of FDOPA loss from areas of specific trapping, may be more sensitive than Ki for early disease-related changes in dopamine biosynthesis. The purpose of the present study was to compare effective distribution volume ratio (eDVR), a metric for dopamine turnover, to cognitive and behavioral measures in Parkinson's patients. We chose to focus the investigation on anterior cingulate cortex, which shows highest FDOPA uptake within frontal regions and has known roles in executive function. Fifteen non-demented early-stage PD patients were pretreated with carbidopa and tolcapone, a central catechol-O-methyl transferase (COMT) inhibitor, and then underwent extended imaging with FDOPA PET. Anterior cingulate eDVR was compared with composite scores for language, memory, and executive function measured by neuropsychological testing, and behavior change measured using two informant-based questionnaires, the Cambridge Behavioral Inventory and the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function-Adult Version. Lower mean eDVR (thus higher dopamine turnover) in anterior cingulate cortex was related to lower (more impaired) behavior scores. We conclude that subtle changes in anterior cingulate dopamine metabolism may contribute to dysexecutive behaviors in Parkinson's disease.
    Full-text Article · Dec 2014 · Brain Imaging and Behavior
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study tested the hypothesis that frequent participation in cognitively-stimulating activities, specifically those related to playing games and puzzles, is beneficial to brain health and cognition among middle-aged adults at increased risk for Alzheimer's disease (AD). Three hundred twenty-nine cognitively normal, middle-aged adults (age range, 43.2-73.8 years) enrolled in the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention (WRAP) participated in this study. They reported their current engagement in cognitive activities using a modified version of the Cognitive Activity Scale (CAS), underwent a structural MRI scan, and completed a comprehensive cognitive battery. FreeSurfer was used to derive gray matter (GM) volumes from AD-related regions of interest (ROIs), and composite measures of episodic memory and executive function were obtained from the cognitive tests. Covariate-adjusted least squares analyses were used to examine the association between the Games item on the CAS (CAS-Games) and both GM volumes and cognitive composites. Higher scores on CAS-Games were associated with greater GM volumes in several ROIs including the hippocampus, posterior cingulate, anterior cingulate, and middle frontal gyrus. Similarly, CAS-Games scores were positively associated with scores on the Immediate Memory, Verbal Learning & Memory, and Speed & Flexibility domains. These findings were not modified by known risk factors for AD. In addition, the Total score on the CAS was not as sensitive as CAS-Games to the examined brain and cognitive measures. For some individuals, participation in cognitive activities pertinent to game playing may help prevent AD by preserving brain structures and cognitive functions vulnerable to AD pathophysiology.
    Full-text Article · Oct 2014 · Brain Imaging and Behavior
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    Elizabeth Anne Boots · Stephanie A Schultz · Jennifer M Oh · [...] · Ozioma C Okonkwo
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is an objective measure of habitual physical activity (PA), and has been linked to increased brain structure and cognition. The gold standard method for measuring CRF is graded exercise testing (GXT), but GXT is not feasible in many settings. The objective of this study was to examine whether a non-exercise estimate of CRF is related to gray matter (GM) volumes, white matter hyperintensities (WMH), cognition, objective and subjective memory function, and mood in a middle-aged cohort at risk for Alzheimer's disease (AD). Three hundred and fifteen cognitively healthy adults (mean age =58.58 years) enrolled in the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention underwent structural MRI scanning, cognitive testing, anthropometric assessment, venipuncture for laboratory tests, and completed a self-reported PA questionnaire. A subset (n = 85) underwent maximal GXT. CRF was estimated using a previously validated equation incorporating sex, age, body-mass index, resting heart rate, and self-reported PA. Results indicated that the CRF estimate was significantly associated with GXT-derived peak oxygen consumption, validating its use as a non-exercise CRF measure in our sample. Support for this finding was seen in significant associations between the CRF estimate and several cardiovascular risk factors. Higher CRF was associated with greater GM volumes in several AD-relevant brain regions including the hippocampus, amygdala, precuneus, supramarginal gyrus, and rostral middle frontal gyrus. Increased CRF was also associated with lower WMH and better cognitive performance in Verbal Learning & Memory, Speed & Flexibility, and Visuospatial Ability. Lastly, CRF was negatively correlated with self- and informant-reported memory complaints, and depressive symptoms. Together, these findings suggest that habitual participation in physical activity may provide protection for brain structure and cognitive function, thereby decreasing future risk for AD.
    Full-text Article · Oct 2014 · Brain Imaging and Behavior
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective: To examine whether engagement in physical activity might favorably alter the age-dependent evolution of Alzheimer disease (AD)-related brain and cognitive changes in a cohort of at-risk, late-middle-aged adults. Methods: Three hundred seventeen enrollees in the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention underwent T1 MRI; a subset also underwent (11)C-Pittsburgh compound B-PET (n = 186) and (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose-PET (n = 152) imaging. Participants' responses on a self-report measure of current physical activity were used to classify them as either physically active or physically inactive based on American Heart Association guidelines. They also completed a comprehensive neuropsychological battery. Covariate-adjusted regression analyses were used to test whether the adverse effect of age on imaging and cognitive biomarkers was modified by physical activity. Results: There were significant age × physical activity interactions for β-amyloid burden (p = 0.014), glucose metabolism (p = 0.015), and hippocampal volume (p = 0.025) such that, with advancing age, physically active individuals exhibited a lesser degree of biomarker alterations compared with the physically inactive. Similar age × physical activity interactions were also observed on cognitive domains of Immediate Memory (p = 0.042) and Visuospatial Ability (p = 0.016). In addition, the physically active group had higher scores on Speed and Flexibility (p = 0.002) compared with the inactive group. Conclusions: In a middle-aged, at-risk cohort, a physically active lifestyle is associated with an attenuation of the deleterious influence of age on key biomarkers of AD pathophysiology. However, because our observational, cross-sectional design cannot establish causality, randomized controlled trials/longitudinal studies will be necessary for determining whether midlife participation in structured physical exercise forestalls the development of AD and related disorders in later life.
    Article · Oct 2014 · Neurology
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    Clarence T. Li · Matthew Palotti · James E Holden · [...] · Catherine L Gallagher
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: 6-[(18) F]-Fluoro-L-dopa (FDOPA) has been widely used as a biomarker for catecholamine synthesis, storage, and metabolism-its intense uptake in the striatum, and fainter uptake in other brain regions, is correlated with the symptoms and pathophysiology of Parkinson's disease (PD). 6-[(18) F]fluoro-m-tyrosine (FMT), which also targets L-amino acid decarboxylase, has potential advantages over FDOPA as a radiotracer because it does not form catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) metabolites. The purpose of the present study was to compare the regional distribution of these radiotracers in the brains of PD patients. 15 Parkinson's patients were studied with FMT and FDOPA positron emission tomography (PET) as well as high-resolution structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI's were automatically parcellated into neuroanatomical regions of interest (ROIs) in Freesurfer (http://surfer.nmr.mgh.harvard.edu); region-specific uptake rate constants (Kocc ) were generated from coregistered PET using a Patlak graphical approach. The essential findings were as follows: (1) regional Kocc were highly correlated between the radiotracers and in agreement with a previous FDOPA studies that used different ROI selection techniques; (2) FMT Kocc were higher in extrastriatal regions of relatively large uptake such as amygdala, pallidum, brainstem, hippocampus, entorhinal cortex, and thalamus, whereas cortical Kocc were similar between radiotracers; (3) while subcortical uptake of both radiotracers was related to disease duration and severity, cortical uptake was not. These results suggest that FMT may have advantages for examining pathologic changes within allocortical loop structures, which may contribute to cognitive and emotional symptoms of PD. Synapse, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Full-text Article · Aug 2014 · Synapse
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    Full-text Article · Jul 2014 · Alzheimer's and Dementia
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    Full-text Article · Jul 2014 · Alzheimer's and Dementia
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is a growing interest in understanding how amyloid β (Aβ) accumulation in preclinical Alzheimer's disease relates to brain morphometric measures and cognition. Existing investigations in this area have been primarily conducted in older cognitively normal (CN) individuals. Therefore, not much is known about the associations between Aβ burden, cortical thickness, and cognition in midlife. We examined this question in 109, CN, late to middle-aged adults (mean age = 60.72 ± 5.65 years) from the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention. They underwent Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB) and anatomical magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, and a comprehensive cognitive examination. Blinded visual rating of the PiB scans was used to classify the participants as Aβ+ or Aβ−. Cortical thickness measurements were derived from the MR images. The Aβ+ group exhibited significant thinning of the entorhinal cortex and accelerated age-associated thinning of the parahippocampal gyrus compared with the Aβ− group. The Aβ+ group also had numerically lower, but nonsignificant, test scores on all cognitive measures, and significantly faster age-associated cognitive decline on measures of speed and flexibility, verbal ability, and visuospatial ability. Our findings suggest that early Aβ aggregation is associated with deleterious changes in brain structure and cognitive function, even in midlife, and that the temporal lag between Aβ deposition and the inception of neurodegenerative/cognitive changes might be narrower than currently thought.
    Full-text Article · Jul 2014 · Alzheimer's and Dementia
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The relative influence of amyloid burden, neuronal structure and function, and prior cognitive performance on prospective memory decline among asymptomatic late middle-aged individuals at risk for Alzheimer's disease (AD) is currently unknown. We investigated this using longitudinal cognitive data from 122 middle-aged adults (21 "Decliners" and 101 "Stables") enrolled in the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention who underwent multimodality neuroimaging [11C-Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB), 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), and structural/functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)] 5.7 ± 1.4 years (range = 2.9-8.9) after their baseline cognitive assessment. Covariate-adjusted regression analyses revealed that the only imaging measure that significantly distinguished Decliners from Stables (p = .027) was a Neuronal Function composite derived from FDG and fMRI. In contrast, several cognitive measures, especially those that tap episodic memory, significantly distinguished the groups (p's<.05). Complementary receiver operating characteristic curve analyses identified the Brief Visuospatial Memory Test-Revised (BVMT-R) Total (.82 ± .05, p < .001), the BVMT-R Delayed Recall (.73 ± .06, p = .001), and the Reading subtest from the Wide-Range Achievement Test-III (.72 ± .06, p = .002) as the top three measures that best discriminated the groups. These findings suggest that early memory test performance might serve a more clinically pivotal role in forecasting future cognitive course than is currently presumed. (JINS, 2014, 20, 1-12).
    Article · Mar 2014 · Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society