Relationship Between Mean Corpuscular Volume and Cognitive Performance in Older Adults

Authors


  • [Editorial Comments by Dr. Joe Verghese, pp 000–000]

Address correspondence to Alyssa A. Gamaldo, National Institute on Aging, 251 Bayview Blvd, Baltimore, MD 21224. E-mail: Alyssa.Gamaldo@nih.gov

Abstract

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.

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